No. Assuming that the reporter has absolutely no factual basis for making such a claim, that would be libel.
The difference is that Tiger is a "public figure" at least with respect to golf, so he has to expect to be subjected to reporting, analysis, and commentary about his golf. And there was a factual basis for commenting on Tiger's compliance or noncompliance with the rules, and what that might mean about his intent to follow the rules.
If Spitfisher was a Pop Warner football coach, and some parents found out that he insisted on showering with the kids after each practice, then that might be a different story. That would be within the realm of a reporter or journalist sniffing out a story, gathering some facts, and presenting (at least one) option about what the facts might mean. That's what journalists do. They don't pull a name out of the phone book and write completely fictional stories about them for fun, and then publish them as opinion.
Your analogy is trolling, BTW. I should only hope that you understand the difference between what Brandel did and the example you gave.