HAIKOU, China — Tiger Woods put the heat on Golf Channel over analyst Brandel Chamblee’s insinuation of cheating, saying Monday that he was ready to move forward and that now it was up to what Golf Channel was prepared to do.
Woods spoke publicly for the first time since Chamblee, a longtime critic of the world’s No. 1 player, wrote a column for SI Plus in which he gave Woods an “F” for his five-win season because of a series of rules violations.
Chamblee wrote that Woods was “a little cavalier with the rules,” and he made the analogy of the time his fourth-grade teacher crossed out “100” and gave him an “F” for cheating on a math test. Chamblee last week went on Twitter to say the cheating comparison went too far, and he apologized to Woods for “this incited discourse.”
“All I am going to say is that I know I am going forward,” Woods said before his exhibition match with Rory McIlroy at Mission Hills. “But then, I don’t know what the Golf Channel is going to do or not. But then that’s up to them. The whole issue has been very disappointing as he didn’t really apologize and he sort of reignited the whole situation.
“So the ball really is in the court of the Golf Channel and what they are prepared to do.”
Golf Channel has not commented on the flap. Chamblee is an analyst, but he wrote his column about Woods as a contributor to another publication. Chamblee has said he was not asked to apologize by anyone.
Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, was so incensed by the column that he issued a statement to ESPN.com that raised the possibility of legal action. Steinberg shared his client’s views.
“I’m all done talking about it and it’s now in the hands of the Golf Channel,” Steinberg said. “That’s Tiger’s view and that’s mine, and all we want to do is move forward. And whether the Golf Channel moves forward as well, then we’ll have to wait and see.”
Woods accepted a two-shot penalty in Abu Dhabi for taking relief from an embedded ball in a sandy area covered with vegetation. Augusta National gave him a two-shot penalty for taking the wrong drop in the second round of the Masters. And the PGA Tour gave him a two-shot penalty after his second round of the BMW Championship when video evidence showed that his ball moved slightly from behind the first green. Even after watching the video, Woods insisted that his ball only oscillated.
Also in question — at least on Internet blogs — was the drop Woods took on the 14th hole of TPC Sawgrass during the final round of The Players Championship. Woods checked with playing partner Casey Wittenberg on where to take the penalty drop, which is standard procedure. Wittenberg said it was the correct spot.
Chamblee said in an email last week to The Associated Press that he never said outright that he thinks Woods cheated, and that was by design.
“I think ‘cavalier with the rules’ allows for those with a dubious opinion of the BMW video,” Chamblee said. “My teacher in the fourth grade did not have a dubious opinion of how I complete the test. But she was writing to one, and as I was writing to many, I felt it important to allow for the doubt some might have, so I chose my words accordingly.
“What people want to infer about that is up to them,” he said. “I have my opinion; they can form theirs.”
Chamblee has developed a reputation for being critical of Woods, mainly regarding his golf game. His column struck a nerve with many, however, because of the implication that three rules violations and a penalty drop involving Woods amounted to cheating — the strongest accusation possible in golf.
“What brought me here was the realization that my comments inflamed an audience on two sides of an issue,” Chamblee wrote on Twitter when he apologized. “Golf is a gentleman’s game and I’m not proud of this debate. I want to apologize to Tiger for this incited discourse.”