August 11, 2009
If you felt the earth tilt on its axis a bit yesterday, you weren't alone. The sky cracked just a little bit as the PGA Tour gathered its courage, stiffened its spine and ...
... fined Tiger Woods.
[UPDATE: No they didn't, apparently. But please, even though all the writing below is now apparently irrelevant, keep reading.]
I know! Amazing! Somebody dared call out the mighty Tiger and demand he take out his wallet! It's true, though. As the AP notes, the PGA Tour hit Tiger for criticizing officials in the wake of Sunday's Bridgestone, where he felt that he and Padraig Harrington were too rushed by clock officials.
Woods thus ran afoul of Section VI-D in the PGA Tour's player handbook, which says, "It is an obligation of membership to refrain from comments to the news media that unreasonably attack or disparage tournaments, sponsors, fellow members, players, or PGA Tour." This, obviously, turns on the definition of "unreasonably," but we'll let that slide and go with the PGA Tour's take.
The PGA Tour doesn't disclose fines, but we can start to put this in perspective. Tiger earned $1.4 million for his win, or about $5,200 per stroke. So even if the Tour dings him for $25,000, he earned that on a single par 5, with enough left over to take his family and friends out to a fine dinner.
So the money isn't the issue. With guys like Tiger, it never is, unless you start getting into seven-figure territory. No, this is about reasserting authority and control. I'm sure the PGA Tour doesn't much care for the perception (cough*reality*cough) that Tiger is the striped tail wagging the dog, and this gave them the opportunity to reassert a bit of authority.
Except nobody's fooled here. Why do I get the impression that this is going to be like one of those Sopranos episodes where the FBI and Tony were working together, and both sides acknowledged that there had to be a little public rebuke in order to keep the wheels greased?
Yes, the fine had to be done. No, it won't hurt Tiger Woods in the least. But maybe if it causes the Tour and fans to take another look at one of golf's more controversial (and misunderstood) elements of play, it'll be worthwhile.
Woods to be fined for criticism of rules official [AP via Yahoo! Sports]
UPDATE: Woods says he was not fined for comment [AP via Yahoo! Sports]