Golf

How a Tiger Woods tribute sparked the most bizarre backlash


A nice gesture from Tiger Woods’ friends ended up with quite a lot of people getting upset, and Annika Sorenstam was caught up in a baffling rules snafu on her competitive return. Alex Perry wraps up the week’s talking points

Hello. Welcome to The Slam at the end of what has been a thoroughly emotional week for many golf fans. If you had watched even a few minutes of coverage on Sunday you will have seen several players paying tribute to Tiger Woods by teeing up at the WGC-Workday Championship in the 15-time major champion’s traditional Sunday red and a black get-up.

Players, including Phil Mickelson and Annika Sorenstam, did the same on the Champions and LPGA Tours, as well as the PGA Tour’s opposite-field event in Puerto Rico.

A lovely touch, I’m sure you’ll agree, and one that Woods will have no doubt seen from his Los Angeles hospital room, where he is recovering from multiple leg injuries caused in a car accident on Tuesday.

What you might not have seen is the utterly baffling fallout that it caused on social media.

It all appeared to kick off when Max Homa, who won Woods’ event at Riviera last week, posted that he had heard Nike were doing something with their contracted players.

Homa – not a Nike player, by the way – added that he would find a different way to pay tribute to his idol.

Fair play, Max. After all, your apparel for each tournament is provided for you by your sponsors and you’re contractually obliged to wear it. Everyone with even a passing interest in golf understands that and it can’t possibly be seen as disrespectful towards Woods, can it?

Oh how little you know Golf Twitter and its ability to be wound up by even the smallest of things.

Gentle reminder: Woods did not die in that car accident. It was simply a nice gesture from the one company that’s been with him his entire career at his lowest point – of which there have been a few contenders – and it’s somehow been used as a stick to beat other players.

Remember when social media was fun?

Family first

When Woods’ daughter Sam was born in 2007, he became a father first and golfer second. He’s often talked of the fact that his injuries and numerous back surgeries have cost him years with his children.

If Woods does decide to call it quits and only turn up at Augusta to tease the top of the leaderboard for a couple of days each year, I’m OK with that.

There’s nothing left to prove. He doesn’t owe us anything.

And it doesn’t even matter until he’s fully recovered. He’s the greatest of all time who changed the game in a way no other play ever has or possibly ever will.

Let’s just be thankful he’s still with us.

Thought for the day

Professional golfers, playing in one of the biggest tournaments in the game, wearing red and black to pay tribute to their friend: Classy touch.

You, watching at home on your sofa, wearing red and black for a couple of social media likes: Bit weird.

Morikawa calling

Collin Morikawa is barely 18 months into his PGA Tour career and he already has four wins – including a major and now a WGC. That’s a pretty good strike rate in anyone’s book.

Leading by two going into the final round, Morikawa started slowly but then he caught fire and held off challenges from Viktor Hovland, Brooks Koepka, Scottie Scheffler and Billy Horschel to win by three.

Only one other player has won a major and a WGC before his 25th birthday. You guessed it.

Korda control

Up the road in Orlando, Nelly Korda won the Gainbridge Championship by three over Lexi Thompson and Lydia Ko.

Sister Jessica won the season-opener a month ago, meaning the Kordas are the first siblings to go back to back on the LPGA Tour since Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam 21 years ago.

Rulesgate

Speaking of Sorenstam – Annika, that is – the GOAT, who hasn’t played on the LPGA Tour since 2008, couldn’t resist dusting off the sticks when the tournament was announced at her home club of Lake Nona.

And the 50-year-old not only made the cut, she did it despite a rotten ruling during the second round.

Sorenstam, a 72-time LPGA Tour winner, found her stray ball under a gate on the fifth hole. She called an official, who advised her to take an unplayable to get relief.

In fact, under the updated Rules of Golf, the gate could have been classed as a movable obstruction and she could have just opened it and played her shot as it was.

She went on to triple-bogey the hole and the official, Dan Maselli, caught up with her following the round to apologise for his mistake.

She’d have been forgiving for rollicking him. Instead, she was comforting. “He said, ‘This is going to hurt me, this is eating me inside’,” Sorenstam explained. “I said, ‘Please don’t feel that way. I appreciate it.’ He said, ‘I won’t make that mistake again.’”

I know what you’re thinking: if they can add shots on retrospectively, surely they can take them off? Nope. There’s nothing in the rules that permits that. Because why would there need to be?

Grace lands

Over in Puerto Rico, a heart-warming story as Branden Grace won his second PGA Tour title just a month after his father lost his battle with Covid-19.

An eagle-birdie finish when in contention is always going to give you a good chance. Phenomenal stuff.

That feels like a really nice place to leave it for another week. You can follow me on Twitter if that’s your thing, and don’t forget to…

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