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Jonathan Wall

GolfTube: Tiger Woods, Spit-Gate dominate Dubai

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Sizing up the TV coverage from the Dubai Desert Classic ... and away we go.

Tiger Woods can't seem to distance himself from media controversies. First it was Hydrant-gate, and now it's Spit-gate, a situation that dominated the headlines in Dubai on Sunday.

After missing a putt to the right side of the cup, Woods knelt down, turned his head to the right and hocked a loogie onto the green. It immediately drew the ire of Sky Sports golf commentator Ewan Murray, who lambasted Woods for spitting on the green: "It's disgusting what he's just done there. He's got people coming up behind him and he's just spat all over the green."

Murray then assumed his position on the soapbox and laid into Woods for his perceived lacked of respect for the course and his fellow players.

"You look at his work ethics and he is a credit to the game and an inspiration to all of those who are trying to become professional golfers.

"But there are some parts of him that are just arrogant and petulant. Somebody now has to come behind him and maybe putt over his spit. It does not get much lower than that."

Of course, the media world was abuzz after the incident. While the decision to spit on the green was a poor one, it paled in comparison to Sergio Garcia spitting in the cup at Doral in 2007.

If anything, the most amazing thing was the fact that Murray blasted Woods like he did. It was only a couple years ago that commentators probably would have held their tongues. But after everything that's happened to him recently, it appears he's fair game.

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Failure at its finest

File this under the category of golf shots you should never try. During Thursday's first round, Golf Channel's cameras caught Welshman Rhys Davies trying a shot that would put most amateurs in the hospital.

With his ball nestled to the right side of a tree, Davies tried to hit his golf ball, miss the tree and clear the water. He would have had a better chance closing his eyes and doing the shot. "He's going for this," on-course commentator Julian Tutt said. "He's really going to try and clear the water here. Oh my."

The "oh my" was in reaction to Davies' follow-through - one that saw him catch the trunk of the tree and bend his club into a mangled mess. Luckily, he let go of his club on impact, in an effort to risk further injury.

Golf Channel showed a brilliant slo-mo replay that allowed viewers at home to watch in horror as the club wrapped around the tree. "That was a beyond risky," said Dennis Hutchinson. "I don't know how he thought he could get that over the water with the wind coming into him and a 160-yard carry. That was rather ambitious."

Ambitious? That's an understatement.

Dubai loves Tiger

Is Tiger Woods gaining a sympathetic crowd? After the way he's struggled with his game, it would appear fans are starting to get behind Woods. At least that was the case this week in Dubai.

During Thursday's first round, Ken Brown and Julian Tutt discussed how the crowds in Dubai have been pulling for Woods: "He seems to be huffing and puffing a bit," said Brown, after Tiger missed a lengthy putt. "It's not quite as easy as it used to be for him, at the moment."

"What's very noticeable though, Ken, is the tremendous will in the crowd for him to do well. It's much more than any player in the field. You head a lot of ‘come on, Tiger!' or ‘good shot, Tiger!' so far in the round."

Locating the big three

I understand the Golf Channel doesn't want to show live golf from Dubai, due in large part to the time difference, but the coverage on Thursday and Friday of the top three players in the world was beyond poor.

After showing McIlroy's group for the opening hour-plus, they finally cut to Woods, Kaymer and Westwood for the front nine. Then, after showing a couple of holes, they cut in after a commercial break to show highlights of a few select holes they decided to pre-record. There's no excuse. If this is the first time the top three in the world have played together since 2008, then I expect to see the entire round live.

It's not like the Golf Channel's cutting into any of their primetime programming by running the tournament live at 2 a.m.

A sign of things to come

Golf Channel's Dennis Hutchinson made a very interesting observation about Rory McIlroy's unimpressive start to his third round. After his second wayward tee-shot to of day, Hutchinson noted that McIlroy was having a rough go of it, and that maybe it was attributed to some nerves or a bad warm-up session.

"McIlroy, right from the first, I don't know if he had a bad warm-up session or whether it's just my imagination - I was talking to other people who thought the same thing - but he looks a bit jumpy and nervous today," Hutchinson said.

While the wind had a hand in McIlroy's poor third round, it was interesting observation from the commentator -- especially after McIlroy shot himself out of contention with a poor third round.

Notes:

Julian Tutt noted that Lee Westwood had his first four-hour practice session of the year earlier this week. Tutt also said Westwood's injury is still bothering him. ... The entire Golf Channel crew discussed, ad nauseum, the number of skyscrapers that dot the landscape around the course. Normally, skyscrapers wouldn't be a topic of discussion, but if you saw these gargantuan structures, then you'd understand why they were being talked about at a golf tournament. ... You have to love the European Tour's coverage. They show golf coverage and nothing else; very rarely do they try and analyze swings, which is refreshing (*cough*Faldo*cough*).

Quotes:

"[The boy] might not be smiling in the morning when he wakes up and his arm is all blue. Thomas Aiken may not be smiling when the lawyers get ahold of him, either," Golf Channel commentator Julian Tutt, cracking wise about the boy Aiken hit with a shot during the third round.

Related: Tiger Woods, Alvaro Quiros, Rory McIlroy

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