But now comes Brandel Chamblee, commentator on the Golf Channel and a writer for Golf.com.
He had the audacity to give Tiger Woods a grade of “F” for the 2013 season, even though he won five tournaments and was Player of the Year. The failing grade came because, as Chamblee saw it, Woods “was a little cavalier with the rules.”
Rory McIlroy fired back with a spirited defense of his fellow PGA star. “I think Brandel was completely wrong. I don’t think he has the authority to say anything like that about Tiger Woods. People wouldn’t know who Brandel Chamblee was if it was not for Tiger Woods. . . . I think he should be dealt with in the right way.”
McIlroy did not reveal what “the right way” is, whether he means a stiff fine or a suspension or firing or a bust in the chops.
But Mark Steinberg, agent for Woods, suggested the right way might be a lawsuit.
Is that an overreaction or what?
First, the facts support Chamblee’s contention that Woods made a habit this year of breaking the rules. His illegal drop at the Masters was the incident that received the attention, but he also was cited in three other tournaments for improper ball movement.
Secondly, even though Woods led the field in earnings, he did not win a major. And by his own admission, he did not play nearly as well as in years past. Perhaps it’s unfair to judge his entire season a failure. But one way of looking at it is that he’s like a student who has a B+ average but gets caught cheating. His grade becomes “F.” In some colleges, he gets kicked out and sent home.
Of course, those rushing to Tiger’s defense say he wasn’t intentionally breaking the rules, he just made a few innocent errors.
I would call that being “a little cavalier with the rules.” I hardly think Chamblee was out of bounds with that allegation. In fact, he was about as gentle as he could be.
As many years as Woods has been playing golf, is it too much to expect him to know how to drop the ball? Shouldn’t he know the rules? One principle of our legal system, since we’re talking litigation, is that ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it. Do we make an exception for Tiger because he’s famous and wealthy?
And what’s this attitude that Chamblee, being little known, has “no authority” to criticize the great Tiger Woods?
At any rate, Chamblee bowed to the furor and issued an apology: “My intention was to note Tiger’s rules infraction, but comparing that to cheating in grade school went too far.”
Frankly, I don’t think he went far enough. This isn’t grade school we’re talking about. These are multimillion-dollar events, watched by millions of viewers around the world. Woods is the one who owes some apologies. I applaud Brandel Chamblee for calling him out.