Far be it from me to be considered a defender of Tiger Woods, but sometimes you have to stand up for a guy when he’s catching grief from people who are in serious need of getting a life.
Just so you know where I stand, I was no fan of Woods when he started scorching the golf world in his 20s and 30s. It wasn’t so much him as it was the world around him. He seemed more like a corporate creation and even more bothersome, at least to me, was the media’s fawning of him.
Now in his 40s, Woods seems much more Regular Dude and I’ve found that to be somewhat appealing. You got to admit, the guy has had a lot to deal with.
But this is something he shouldn’t have to deal with.
Last week at the Genesis Open – his first PGA event back after a prolonged absence – Woods was playing with Justin Thomas, a good friend on the Tour, in the first round.
When Woods, 47, outdrove the 29-year-old Thomas on a hole, he casually walked down the fairway with Thomas and slipped something into his hands. Thomas looked down to see what it was, gave it a smirk, and continued on. (Almost) nobody noticed it.
But a photographer got a picture of the exchange, zoomed in on the photo and discovered – gasp! – it was a tampon.
Look, I don’t need to translate it for you. It’s pretty obvious what was at play here and, I might add, somewhat creative. I mean, it’s not like Woods just happened to have said item in his golf bag. The pre-meditation of it is part of the beauty.
Social media blew up over it and people who just don’t get it lined up to take their shots. Woods was forced coached coerced into giving an apology “to anyone who was offended.” (Which is very much code for, “I really don’t mean it, but it’s what I’m supposed to say to get you morons off my back.”)
Say whatever you want about the whole thing, but there is one indisputable fact at play here – it’s what guys do. And particularly in golf, which is fertile ground.
Christine Brennan of USA Today predictably weighed in. (“He employed basic misogyny to insult his good friend Thomas, a knee-slapper of a dig against female athletes: You hit the ball like a girl!”)
The Athletic found Sarina Wiegman, a female English soccer coach who nobody has ever heard of, and did an entire story on how she was offended. (“Very inappropriate.”)
So let me speak for an entire gender when I say this: You’re offended? Well how about this – I’m offended that you’re offended.
But, hey, maybe I’m missing something here. So I checked in with two golfers who might not think the same way I do. You know, just in case my inner misogynist was taking over.
Shreveport’s Meredith Duncan has played on the LPGA Tour and is a former winner of the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Sandra Smith is the former president of the Louisiana Women’s Golf Association, a two-time winner of the LWGA Fourball tournament and a recent board member of the Louisiana Golf Association.
Let’s hear from them!
Duncan: “I thought it was really funny. As a woman I wasn’t offended at all. I don’t understand the big deal, really. It was a funny ribbing between two friends.”
Smith: “Although I thought Tiger’s passing off a tampon to JT was kinda dumb, I certainly wasn’t offended by it. I took it for what it was … a prank gone bad and caught on video. I shudder to think of all the dumb things my girlfriends and I have done through the years … fortunately most of them happened before social media reared its oft-times ugly head.”
So it’s not just what guys do. It’s what golfers do.
“We need to lighten up,” Smith said, “and quit being so damn sensitive.”
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