PGA Backs Down From Tiger Over Criticism Fines

More than a few eyebrows were raised when Tiger Woods, fresh off his comeback win in the Bridgestone Invitational, criticized a PGA official by name for putting him and Padraig Harrington on the clock on the 16th hole; Woods trailed by one stroke at the time, and Harrington melted down shortly afterward, effectively handing the match to Woods with a triple bogey.

Padraig Harrington and Tiger Woods
(Um, that doesn’t look like a “that shot went well” face.)

According to the ASSOCIATED PRESS, Woods was reportedly fined an undisclosed amount by the PGA for criticizing a tour official. And how dare they, right? Yes, blaming Harrington’s late Van de Velde‘ing of the 16th hole on rushing his swing is spectacularly diva-ish, but golfers have beeen depending on that exact diva treatment for decades; why stop now?

For whatever reason, either the prevailing of cooler heads or just sloppy reporting by the AP, the report has been declared false.

Per the SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, if Tiger’s about to be fined, it’s for as much as money as Lenny Dykstra has in his bank account:

“I’ve heard from the tour. There’s no fine,” Woods said during a press conference Tuesday ahead of this week’s PGA Championship. 

Woods went from a one-shot deficit to a three-shot lead, but he was upset with European Tour referee John Paramor for placing the twosome on the clock on the 16th tee for being too far out of position. Woods said Harrington was forced to rush his shots because of the decision.

He said he told Harrington afterward: “I’m sorry that John got in the way of a great battle.”

Aw, snap! And for that, Tiger faces no fines.

If nothing else, the rescinding of the penalty signals one (or more; they’re not mutually exclusive) of three things:

1) That Tiger calls the shots on the PGA Tour;

2) That the PGA acknowledges that putting the players on the clock was an incorrect decision that merited criticism;

3) That Tiger actually is being fined, but he knows it’s PGA policy to not disclose information about fines. If he’s got no qualms about forking over $5,000 or whatever (and let’s face it, he wouldn’t even notice 5 Gs), then by telling the press there was no fine, he not-so-subtly implies both point one and two while still following all of the PGA’s rules.

Of course, that’s pure, uncut speculation. Maybe there is, in fact, no fine whatsoever. There probably shouldn’t be. But hey, sometimes it’s fun to imagine the reaches of Tiger’s power, and we’re not just talking about 182 yards with an 8-iron.