One of the better assessments I have read. Tiger obviously is not a cheater. But he could have handled things better, especially at the Masters.
But is Chamblee right? Will 2013 be remembered as much for Woods' brush with officialdom as his five Tour wins and returning to the lofty spot of world number one? “I can’t remember another year when it’s happened like this," said Woods himself about his brush with rules officials.
Bunker Mentality decided to look back at his big blunders of the year:
- His most contentious moment of the year enveloped him at the Masters in April when he saw a ball clip a pin before dropping back into the water. Woods should have dropped the ball from where he had hit or on line of entry, but opted to go back a few yards to play the shot. He later boasted that he dropped it two yards back on purpose to enable him to control the distance better. He was handed a two-shot penalty. Many experts said he should had been tossed out of the tournament.
Our verdict: Ignorant, but not guilty.
- During the Abu Dhabi Championship in January, Woods decided he was entitled to take a drop from a plugged lie on a desert course that is more bunker than grass in the Gulf region. He did so without consulting a referee and was later deemed to have called it wrong.
Our verdict: Ignorant: but not guilty.
- Only a few weeks after the Masters came golf's fifth Major in the form of the Players' Championship. He hooked a drive into some water before listening to his playing partner Casey Wittenberg's advice on where he should drop the ball. Not his greatest moment, but he looked away in anguish after the shot leaving Wittenberg as the only reliable source on where to drop.
Our verdict: A bit more suspicious, but again not guilty.
- Then came the BMW Championship in Chicago when he apparently protested his innocence by berating rules officials after being walloped with a two-shot penalty after the ball moved when he plucked a twig away from it. He was shown footage of the incident, but refused to accept the punishment with good grace.
Our verdict: Immature and unprofessional, but again not guilty.
Some will wonder if he is willing to cheat on his wife, would he be willing to cheat on his scorecard? Woods has been the victim of a set of circumstances beyond his control, but there are only too many ready to chastise Woods because they do not like his persona.
There is a more likely explanation, at least in part. He has more run-ins with rule officials simply because he plays more errant shots than he used to, and therefore ends up in places that aren't fit for golf balls. That is just a natural consequence of an elongated career.
The sad thing is that he would have increased his stature immeasurably had he had withdrawn from the Masters in April rather than play on when it was obvious the rules were being bent to keep him in. Walking away would have made him look like the bigger man, and probably rehabilitated his image almost completely in the eyes of all but a few die-hard haters.
Instead, he chose to ignore the glaringly obvious fact that any other player in the field would almost certainly have been disqualified in the same circumstances. If you are going to claim the reward of staying in the tournament when you probably should have headed home, you are going to risk the ire of commentators such as Chamblee calling you out on it.
But that doesn't make it cheating. In the final analysis, Woods seems to be single-minded, irritable, ill-tempered and unprofessional at times, but there are others playing golf who are as bad as Woods. Calling him a cheat is melodramatic. And wrong.