Tiger Woods and the 15 Most Controversial Figures in Golf History

Mike DudurichContributor ISeptember 17, 2012

Tiger Woods and the 15 Most Controversial Figures in Golf History

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    Tiger Woods is definitely the most popular golfer of all time and became one of the most controversial of all time in Thanksgiving 2009.

    Dottie Pepper was one of the most successful players ever on the LPGA Tour and made herself very controversial with her comments. She called the American Solheim Cup team in 2007 a "bunch of freaking choking dogs" while working as a commentator for Golf Channel.

    There are all sorts of ways to become controversial, as is shown in the following slideshow.

Tiger Woods Found out How Quickly a Freefall Can Occur

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    The greatest example in modern history of a man who had the world in his hands and let it all slip away.

    The world’s No. 1 golfer saw it all blow up on Thanksgiving night 2009 when a trail of cell phone messages proved to be the tip of the iceberg of a sordid private life that eventually ruined his marriage and his business empire, and had a profound negative effect on his golf game.

John Daly Might Be Golf's Most Famous Comic Tragedy

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    Mr. Grip it and Rip it burst onto the scene in 1991.

    As the ninth alternate into the PGA Championship at Crooked Stick, Daly won the first of his two major titles that week.

    He became much more famous through the years for his problems with alcohol, gambling, his broken marriages, trashed hotel rooms and a golf game that has flamed out to amazing depths.

    He is little more than a sideshow now, showing up at events in his Loudmouth line of apparel, which creates more buzz than his game.

Tommy Bolt Won Plenty and Was Fined Plenty

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    Tommy Bolt's fiery disposition made him one of the most entertaining golfers of the 1950s and ’60s.

    He broke clubs during rounds and was one of the great club-throwers of all time. He became so good at it, a rule was adopted prohibiting that act of temper.

    He later contended that much of his on-course antics was showmanship and that the antics actually detracted from his playing.

    As a tribute to his prowess as a golfer, Bolt was elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2002.

    His nicknames? Thunder and Terrible Tommy.

Anthony Kim Has Made It Hard for Golf Fans to Root for Him

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    The modern era’s poster boy for petulance and pouting has combined those attitude problems with a passion for nightlife in a big way.

    Add that to injuries that have plagued him the past couple years and Kim has become a mere shell of the man who played on the United States Ryder Cup team in 2008 and Presidents Cup team in 2009.

Brian Barnes Was a Great Player Held Back by Dependency

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    Barnes had quite a reputation for being too familiar with adult beverages and was known to even have a taste from his golf bag during tournaments.

    He was an imposing man who was responsible for one of the most atrocious putting performances ever, At the 1968 French Open, Barnes missed a short putt on the 8th hole. He angrily tried to rake the ball into the cup, but missed again.

    He then hit the ball back and forth while it was still moving. After all of the missed putts and penalty strokes were counted, Barnes had scored a 15.

    Perhaps the best moment of his career came in 1975 when he beat Jack Nicklaus twice in the same day in the Ryder Cup matches at Laurel Valley Golf Club in Ligonier, Pa.

Matt Every Budding Career Was Stunted by Marijuana Bust

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    Every has played on both the Nationwide and PGA Tours before finally earning his PGA Tour card as a rookie in 2010.

    Later that year, he was one of three men arrested in a hotel in Bettendorf, Iowa and charged with possession of marijuana.

    Every maintained his innocence and apologized for his poor judgement.

    He was later given a 90-day suspension by the PGA Tour.

Atwal Made Headlines More for His Auto Accident Than His PGA Tour Win

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    Arjun Atwal is the first player born in India to become a member of the PGA Tour and later win a tournament on that tour (the 2010 Wyndham Championship).

    He was was involved in an automobile crash in Windermere, Fla., on March 10, 2007 that the Florida Highway Patrol said could have possibly been associated with street racing.

    While Atwal was not injured, a second driver, John Noah Park, was killed.

    The investigation into the accident lasted a year and the case was closed with no charges filed.

Dave Hill Was Testy, Grumpy but Wasn't Afraid to Take on the PGA Tour

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    In the 1960s and ’70s, Dave Hill acquired the occasional nickname of “the Don Rickles of the PGA Tour” because of his quick wit and biting sarcasm.

    It wasn’t unusual for him to lead the PGA Tour in fines and suspensions for violations such as swearing and breaking clubs.

    One of his biggest controversies happened in 1971 at the Colonial National Invitation. He shot rounds of 77-85 and on his last hole, Hill threw a ball out of a sand trap.

    He was disqualified for signing a scorecard with an incorrect score on it.

    The next week was the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic. When he arrived, Hill was told he had been fined $500 for conduct unbecoming a professional.

    He had to pay the fine before teeing it up, and he did.

    Then things got really interesting. In less than a week, Hill filed a $1 million antitrust suit against the Tour and the Tour responded by putting Hill on probation for a year.

    Hill responded by increasing the amount of damages he wanted to $3 million.

    The case was resolved out of court in less than a year and Hill was taken off probation.

Jim Thorpe Senior Career Was Derailed by $1.6 Million in Unpaid Taxes

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    Thorpe was a journeyman PGA Tour player, winning three times.

    He won 13 times on the Champions Tour, including a major.

    That success was tainted when charges were filed against Thorpe in federal court in Orlando for his failure to pay $1.6 million in taxes between 2002-2004.

    Thorpe pleaded guilty to the charges in September of 2009 and on Jan. 22, 2010,

    Thorpe was sentenced to a year in prison and was released on Jan. 17, 2011.

    He had been placed under suspension by the PGA Tour until March 31, after which he went back to play on the Champions Tour.

Vijay Singh Hasn't Done Much Through His Career to Build a Fan Base

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    Never one to be confused with warm and fuzzy, Singh’s snarly personality has almost become expected.

    He was involved in an alleged cheating incident in 1985 on the Southeast Asia Tour and has since been unhappy with how he was portrayed negatively in the media.

    Singh possesses a very deep distrust of the media.

    He didn’t help himself in 2003 leading up to the Bank of America Colonial. Annika Sorenstam was going to play in the event and Singh was quoted as saying, “I hope she misses the cut because she doesn’t belong out here.”

    Singh subsequently said the biggest emphasis of his statement was that he was upset that she would be forcing out some other struggling PGA Tour player.

Tom Weiskopf Belittled a Playing Partner in the U.S. Senior Open

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    Tom Weiskopf's nickname during his PGA Tour career was "The Towering Inferno." He was tall and it didn’t take long for him to explode.

    His most memorable explosion might have been when he embarrassed his playing partner, James Stahl of Cincinnati, in the 1996 U.S. Senior Open at Canterbury County Club.

    He complained very publicly to Stahl about his use of a “shiny” coin to mark his ball.

    That wasn’t bad enough, but then he continued his rant to anyone who would listen on the very next tee.

It Didn't Take Much to Set Steve Pate off

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    He's short on stature but big on explosion. Steve Pate was given a well-earned nickname during his days on the PGA Tour—Volcano.

    He became well-known throughout golf for his temper tantrums, including club-throwing. While the PGA Tour doesn’t announce fines, word was that he was fined on a yearly basis for his behavior.

    All of that has even carried over to his Champions Tour career. In the 2012 Senior PGA at Harbor Shores, Mich., he finished his round badly and put on a display of throwing out of bounds stakes.

It's Never Hard to Tell What Pat Perez Is Thinking

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    Pat Perez  has maintained his angry young man image throughout his nine-year PGA Tour career. His specialty in terms of bad behavior seemed to be burying clubs into the ground, with a minor in club-tossing.

    At the 2011 Reno-Tahoe Open, the Golf Channel caught an entire tantrum on film and the clip made it to YouTube where it became an instant hit.

Sergio Garcia Typifies the Talented but Spoiled Superstar

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    Sergio Garcia had a chance to become the next Seve Ballesteros and maybe even the next serious challenger to the kingdom of Tiger Woods.

    But his impatience and lack of maturity kept him from connecting in any significant way with fans on the PGA Tour and in some ways, made them turn against him.

    He openly complained early in his career about how things seemed to be set up to accommodate Woods on Tour, including the weather and which side of the draw he was placed in.

    Garcia has become moody and difficult with both the media and fans.

    He has proven to be a very good Ryder Cup player and will no doubt be a factor in this year's match.

Paul Azinger Knows How to Work People in Good and Bad Ways

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    Paul Azinger counts the 1993 PGA Championship among the 12 victories he recorded on the PGA Tour.

    He's never been short of opinions and some of those have rubbed folks the wrong way. He and Nick Faldo had an interesting relationship dating back to their playing days. They jabbed each other on the course, off the course and in the television booth where they were edgy partners on several occasions.

    They were opposing captains in the 2008 Ryder Cup, which Azinger's U.S. team won.

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