Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Fellow pros furious at ‘selfish’ Tiger Woods

In dictating the terms of his return to the public arena at the PGA Tour's headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, Tiger Woods and his management have made it abundantly clear where the power really lies in professional golf.

Yet, even before he utters the carefully chosen first words in front of a live TV audience today (4pm GMT) on The Golf Channel, Woods has been served due notice that the world he dominated before his break from the game has changed; utterly.

To borrow a phrase from team sports, Woods has lost the locker room.

Tiger's colleagues are furious that he is to make his announcement on the third day of the Accenture Match Play, completely undermining this $8.5m showpiece, one of golf's prestigious World Championships.

Ernie Els, three-times Major champion and a senior figure on Tour, caught the mood of many of his fellow professionals with his blunt two-word dismissal of Tiger's decision to make his first public appearance today.

“It's selfish,” said the South African, adding: “You can write that.

“I feel sorry for the sponsor (Accenture). Mondays are good days to make statements, not Friday. This takes a lot away from the golf tournament.”

Few if any of Tiger's fellow players would have made such an overtly-critical remark about his behaviour 10 weeks ago.

In the old world, prior to that November 27 car crash and the sex scandals which wrote off his moral authority, Woods enjoyed the unstinting support and public approval of the game's top professionals for the pivotal role he played in making them rich beyond their wildest dreams.

Els was so furious at the PGA Tour's connivance with Tiger's announcement, to the obvious detriment of this week's tournament, he telephoned Commissioner Tim Finchem to make his feelings known in person.

Rory McIlroy, who has idolised Tiger since first seeing him on television at the age of six, told it as it is in a press conference immediately after his first round victory over Kevin Nah on Wednesday, saying: “I suppose he might want to get something back against the sponsor that dropped him.”

Initially, this remark was edited out of the supposedly verbatim transcript of McIlroy's media conference. However, it was later restored after strong representations were made to PGA Tour media staff.

Geoff Ogilvy, who is defending his Accenture Match Play title at Dove Mountain this week, resorted to sarcasm, something which Woods certainly will not be used to hearing from his peers.

“Maybe we can put the whole tournament on hold for 10 minutes to watch (the broadcast),” said the Australian, who last month was one of the first to urge Tiger, in the interests of his fellow professionals, to publicly address his recent issues before turning up to play in a tournament.

“The only thing I will say about it is that I would like to see him answer some questions,” Ogilvy went on, clearly casting aspersions on the effectiveness of today's TV appearance by Tiger during which questions will not be entertained.

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