Objective golf observers have made the complaint, quietly, for years: Why is there so much of an overreaction to Tiger Woods when he expresses his displeasure over his play?
Everyone does it—or at least many other players blurt out an expletive in frustration, toss a club. And yet, when Woods did it, the noise was so loud.
Rory McIlroy, who holds Woods’ old position as the No. 1 player in the world, was so upset with himself that he tossed a three-iron into the lake Friday at Doral outside of Miami. But here’s the kicker?
There was no protests from players, no complaints from golf legends. No nothing—except platitudes to McIlroy, actually, that he showed himself to be a regular guy.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Woods tosses his club back to his golf bag in anger, curses under his breath, and he’s the angry Black man. Tom Watson says, “He needs to clean it up.”
McIlroy slung a club into the water…and everyone laughed.
This is what Watson said a few years ago about Woods: “He really shouldn’t be setting that sort of example for kids. His swearing and his club throwing, that should end. I think he needs to clean up his act and show respect for the game that people before him have shown.”
McIlroy’s antics, with kids watching, drew jokes. Fellow pro Henrik Stenson, who was playing with McIlroy, cracked that he was sure to make SportsCenter with his toss. Stenson is another who has angrily flung clubs or let an expletive or three fly out of his mouth.
“He was quite funny,” McIlroy said. “He’s been prone to doing a thing or two like that in the past, as well, so he can relate.”
It’s hard to relate to the idea that when someone other than Woods let’s his frustration take over, it’s OK. A joke. McIlroy said he “never went at it that hard” in displaying anger. “I just let frustration get the better of me. It was heat of the moment, and if it had been any other club, I probably wouldn’t have, but I didn’t need a 3-iron for the rest of the round, so I thought why not.”
The thought of Sergio Garcia calling out Woods on on-course behavior is laughable, but even he took a shot when he had to wait as Woods cleared a way to take a shot at a tournament last year. This is the same Garcia who spit into a golf hole after he picked up the ball out of the cup, a show of disdain. It also was disgusting. So, Sergio, put a sock in it.
McIlroy said his antic was “not my proudest moment.” And countless players have kicked a bag, thrown a club, cursed and worse on the golf course. The gentleman’s sport has and always will survive an occasional show of frustration.
“It wasn’t something that I would encourage anyone to do,” McIlroy said .”I wouldn’t encourage kids to do it if they were watching on television. It wasn’t very role modelish of me. It felt good at the time, but right now I regret it.”
McIlroy’s upfront approach is the right approach. The PGA may fine him for the act, but it’s only a figurative punishment, considering McIlroy’s wealth.
But this isn’t McIlroy’s issue; it’s media’s, analysts’, players’ and fans’ who have collectively bashed Woods for every move that did not align with their thinking or golf’s intended behavior. Players have snapped clubs in half, thrown tantrums, you name it. And none of them got the grief Woods has received over the years. Wonder why?