Woods will be headed to Scotland to play in the Open Championship in July. He'll tee off at St. Andrews, a place where he's won twice before. And this year, to commemorate the Open's 150th anniversary, the winner of the Open will receive a replica of the historic championship belt won by Young Tom Morris after his third consecutive Open win in 1870.
All three of those factors combine to make a descendant of golf legend Old Tom Morris very, very agitated indeed.
Melvyn Morrow, 60, a great-great grandson of Old Tom, is protesting Prestwick Golf Club's plans to present the belt to this year's winner. (Visor tip: Press Tent.) The problem, Morrow says, is that too many of today's golfers don't embody Young Tom's ideals of sportsmanship and decorum, and that ignominious list is headed by a certain Sunday-red-wearin' fella. In a letter to the Prestwick Golf Club, which holds the original belt, Morrow outlined his concerns. Feel free to read the lines below in your best Groundskeeper Willie voice:
"It's not about his ladies or private problem; it's his course conduct that I am totally against. It's his language and course etiquette. Such language is bad enough for a pro, but to throw his clubs when spectators are close by is not acceptable.
"It is not necessarily just Tiger Woods, but he is probably the worst offender when it comes to throwing clubs. When he threw a club over the top of the gallery at the Australian Masters last November, it was one of the worst offences I had ever seen. If the club had been two feet lower it would have done serious damage to someone yet no one did anything.
"I want assurance that course etiquette will be upheld. It's not just Tiger; it applies to all players throwing clubs, which is just bloody dangerous – and what a message to send out to kids.
"If Tiger and other golfers behave like professional golfers on the course then they deserve their trophies. But throwing clubs is, in my book, just not acceptable and goes to the heart of golf and course etiquette, or should I say the decline of the modern game.
"The poor standards we seem to be faced with today annoys me and no one seems to be doing a thing to clean it up."
Unfortunately for Morrow, he's fighting a losing battle. As he told the Scotsman, "Prestwick have made it clear they are going to proceed no matter what. I'm not going to launch a legal challenge but it is a dreadful shame that the club could not ask the R&A to deal a bit more severely with these sorts of things than they have in the past. It would be a shame if the belt went to any Tom, Dick or Harry."
I'm not sure there is a Tom, a Dick or a Harry entered in this year's Open Championship, but anybody who can drop the word "dreadful" in everyday conversation's all right with me.
So you keep fighting, Melvyn! They might give away a commemorative version of your belt, but they can never give away a commemorative version of your freedom!
- Tiger Woods
- Young Tom Morris