Tiger Woods, golden boy of professional Golf, is facing a rare backlash from sports columnists over his criticism of an official at Sunday’s Bridgestone Invitational. Did John Paramour, the official, get "in the way of a great battle" by forcing Woods and Padraig Harrington to play with a time contraint, as Woods asserted? Was the sport's biggest star out of line for speaking out? Did he deserve to be fined by the PGA? Was he actually fined? These questions and more are being batted around as a sport clashes with its biggest star.
Tiger Screwed Up Lawrence Donegan at the Guardian took it out on Tiger, calling the golfer “utterly classless” and saying he "is so used to getting special (read, deferential) treatment from all around him he was probably stunned that John Paramor was more interested in applying the rules as they stand than making sure he didn't offend Tiger's porcelain sensibilities.”
Jay Busbee at Yahoo Sports' Morning Drive said it’s less about the money and more about the PGA reasserting itself as the platform through which Tiger is allowed to play, not the other way around. “I'm sure the PGA Tour doesn't much care for the perception (cough*reality*cough) that Tiger is the striped tail wagging the dog, and this gave them the opportunity to reassert a bit of authority.”
Official Screwed Up ESPN's Jason Sobel said Paramour made a bad call to clock the players, telling Jason Smith on ESPN radio that there was "no need for a warning to slow play." ESPN's Bob Harig called Harrington's reaction to the time constraint a "shame" and sides with Sobel in calling out Paramour's poor officiating. "There was Harrington, giving Woods the fight we so rarely see out of any of his Sunday challengers, and it gets derailed in, uh, untimely fashion."
The round-table discussion of the Sports Illustrated Golf Group on golf.com sparked a debate of its own. Gary Van Sickle says Tiger “really put Paramour out to dry,” while Brad Faxon and Alan Shipnuck allude to their disagreement with the official and the idea that being put on the clock at the last hole was, “very unusual” and possibly threw Harrington off of his game. Faxon on how the time constraint affected Harrington: “The rhythm is crucial, and the timing of this had to have an effect on Padraig.”
PGA Overreacted Meanwhile, thegolfblog.com took reader response into account and sided with Woods, saying the tour “messed up” and made two mistakes: The official was wrong and the fine exceeded the crime. “Not only was Tiger's comment justified (it wasn't sour grapes since he won!), it also was a rare criticism by Woods. Tiger hardly ever says anything critical of anybody or anything. He's done so much for the PGA Tour. If the PGA Tour didn't like what Tiger said, a phone call from Tim Finchem to Tiger would have been all that was necessary. A fine is excessive.”
Focusing on the comment itself the Associated Press fell slightly on the Woods side, saying that golfer’s words were more about the respect he holds for Harrington than the actual actions of the official not playing fair in the tournament. “He spent some 10 minutes discussing why he holds the Irishman in such high esteem. And he did not disagree when presented this notion: Of all the players against whom he has competed over the last dozen years, few -- if any -- have made Woods feel as though he were playing against himself.”