Tiger Woods isn't happy with Brandel Chamblee after the Golf Channel analyst essentially labeled the world's No. 1 golfer a cheater in his year-end review on Golf.com.
Chamblee gave Woods an "F" for the season, alluding to his well-publicized rules violations:
I remember when we only talked about Tiger's golf. I miss those days. He won five times and contended in majors and won the Vardon Trophy and...how shall we say this...was a little cavalier with the rules.
Before that jarring statement, Chamblee compared Woods' rules violations to an instance in his own life when his savvy fourth-grade teacher gave him a failing grade on a math test for cheating.
Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg of Excel Sports Management, released a statement condemning Chamblee for his insulting column, while clearly insinuating legal action could soon follow. Via CNN.com:
There's nothing you can call a golfer worse than a cheater. This is the most deplorable thing I have seen.
I'm not one for hyperbole, but this is absolutely disgusting. Calling him a cheater? I'll be shocked, stunned if something is not done about this. Something has to be done. There are certainly things that just don't go without response. It's atrocious. I'm not sure if there isn't legal action to be taken. I have to give some thought to legal action.
UPDATE: Tuesday, Oct. 22, at 10:09 p.m. ET
Chamblee issued an apology to Woods via Twitter:
Golf is a gentleman's game and I'm not proud of this debate. I want to apologize to Tiger for this incited discourse.— brandel chamblee (@chambleebrandel) October 23, 2013
And no - I was not asked to apologize— brandel chamblee (@chambleebrandel) October 23, 2013
My intention was to note Tiger's rules infractions this year, but comparing that to cheating in grade school went too far.— brandel chamblee (@chambleebrandel) October 23, 2013
---End of update---
UPDATE: Tuesday, Oct. 22, at 1:47 p.m. ET
Chamblee has spoken out for the first time since the release of his controversial piece on Golf.com. The analyst defended his marks in communication with the Associated Press (via ESPN):
"I think 'cavalier with the rules' allows for those with a dubious opinion of the BMW video," Chamblee said Tuesday in an email to the AP. "My teacher in the fourth grade did not have a dubious opinion of how I completed 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 also said he didn't fear legal action, despite comments from Woods' camp:
Asked if he was rattled by Steinberg's consideration of legal action, Chamblee replied, "No."
"I thought it incomprehensible that anyone with the slightest understanding of libel laws wouldn't know the definition of and the difference between libel and opinion," Chamblee said.
---End of update---
Does Chamblee have a good point, or is he out of line?
There's nothing more sacred to a golfer than his honor on the course. Golf has long been considered a "gentleman's game," and those who skirt the rules are excoriated for their transgressions.
Thanks to high-definition televisions and a few studious viewers, Woods has been the subject of a few controversial rulings this year. His first came at Abu Dhabi back in January, when Woods took a two-stroke penalty for rules of infringement and ultimately missed the cut.
In April, Woods was famously assessed a two-stroke penalty at the Masters after a viewer called in a questionable drop after the round. He was assessed the penalty after the round was complete, once officials had reviewed the drop.
He was also criticized for a drop he took at The Players Championship in May, but no penalty was assessed after officials determined he took the correct action.
Finally, Woods was assessed a two-stroke penalty at the BMW Championship last month. He was attempting to move debris from in front of his ball, which was deep in the trees, and his ball shifted slightly.
None of these violations appeared to be intentional, and Woods was penalized appropriately for his transgressions. It seems to be a huge stretch by Brandel Chamblee to make the jump that Woods has intentionally attempted to cheat.
While it's true Chamblee never explicitly said Tiger "cheated" in his "opinion" column, his insinuation is crystal clear, and it's one Woods shouldn't take lying down. A lawsuit is likely upcoming, as it should be.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78