It was only a matter of time before Tiger Woods' success this year would bring his detractors out of the woodwork.
After winning the 2013 Players Championship on Sunday, controversy has sprouted up concerning his drop at the 14th hole of the final round.
And it's ridiculous.
First of all, Woods has never been labeled as a cheater on the links. He's never taken shortcuts, despite him being one of the most competitive athletes on the planet.
At Abu Dhabi this year, he received a two-shot penalty that resulted in him missing the cut. At the Masters, he received a two-shot penalty at the 15th hole in the second round. Despite roaring back after finding the water at the 15th, he did not complain about the penalty. Nor did he complain about the penalty at Abu Dhabi.
Say what you will about Tiger off the course, but on the course he takes responsibility for his mistakes. To suggest he dropped the ball in a more favorable spot at the 14th at the Players Championship for a competitive advantage is a disservice to the legendary player Tiger has become.
But, more importantly, as Bob Harig of ESPN.com detailed on Wednesday, it wasn't Woods who determined where to drop the ball; it was his playing partner, Casey Wittenberg. Woods had turned his head in disgust after his tee shot, not seeing the flight of the ball. He then asked Wittenberg for perspective. That in itself proves Woods wasn't trying to cheat at the 14th.
When asked whether there were questions surrounding Tiger's drop, Wittenberg said, via the ESPN.com report, "No, not at all. I saw it perfectly off the tee. I told him exactly where I thought it crossed, and we all agreed, so he's definitely great on that."
You can call it poor judgment on the part of Wittenberg if you want, but suggesting Woods had anything to do with it is simply overlooking the details. The 14-time major champion deserves better than this on the links.
Woods has four victories this year, more than he had in his bounce-back campaign last year—and it's only May. He also placed fourth at the Masters. He should be praised for what he's done following a tumultuous couple of years.
Not criticized needlessly.