Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Roundup from Yesterday and Why Tiger Is Wrong

Wow, some days are just longer than others. I’m in Vermont now because my son Danny finishes his summer camp today. I drove up from New York yesterday—six solid hours, including a monsoon the instant I crossed into Vermont—after doing my TV satellite tour for, “Change-Up—Mystery at The World Series,” my new kids book.

The tour went really well. There were no cancellations—which often happen—and everyone seemed happy to talk about the book. Or at least willing to talk about it which is all that matters. I even got to see some early reviews of the book which were very good. For the record: any author who tells you he or she doesn’t read reviews is a liar. It reminds me of something Ivan Lendl said to me years ago: “I never read what you write but it’s all terrible.”

We actually sort of made peace late in his career but that’s another story.

The only problem Tuesday came at the start of the day. I have this aversion to car services. Maybe I’m just my father’s son—my dad grew up in Brooklyn during the depression and couldn’t stand anything that even resembled wasting money. Literally on his death bed he screamed at me for setting a glass of water down on a night table because he thought it might make a mark and thus need polishing.

I’m not that way but when someone says, “we’ll send a car for you when the TV studio is nine blocks from my hotel I just can’t see it. I always walk in New York, it’s usually faster than driving anyway and, since my heart surgery I’m supposed to walk every day anyway.

Except today wasn’t the day to walk. It was 90 degrees and humid even at 8 a.m. and I was SOAKED by the time I got to the studio. The poor make-up woman had to literally blow dry my shirt before I could do the first interview. I could have used a shower but there was no time. (There was a shower but apparently Lisa Kudrow who was in the studio for some reason was using it. Seriously).

While I was doing the interviews—there were 18 in all—I had some time to read the newspaper. I noticed an item that said Tiger Woods had been fined by The PGA Tour for publicly criticizing rules official John Paramour for putting he and Padraig Harrington on the clock on the 16th hole on Sunday. In fact, Tiger basically blamed Paramour for Harrington’s triple bogey eight on the hole.

Let me say a couple of things here. First, John Paramour is a friend of mine. It’s my belief that golf’s rules officials are the most underpaid and underrated officials in sports. Their typical day during a tournament is about 14 hours long and they have to do everything from setting up the golf course, to making all the volunteers feel important, to dealing with the players—and their wives—to make rulings and trying as hard as they can to keep the pace of play reasonable.

Paramour has been the lead official on The European Tour for years. He is as respected as anyone in golf and he is one of the truly good men in sports. He loves the game—cherishes it—and would no more put the two leaders on the clock than he would cut off his arm unless HE HAD NO CHOICE.

In this case, he had no choice. To begin with both Harrington and Woods are very slow players on a tour filled with slow players. Woods has improved but he can still be brutal. Harrington too.

The two of them had been warned on the front nine. They had caught up for a while on the back nine because J.B. Holmes slowed everyone down when he had a disaster on 16 himself. Then they dropped behind again and when they got to 16 which is 667 yards long (!!!) the hole had been open for two minutes. Mike Weir, who is on the verge of a fine for repeated slow play this year, had already been on the clock. So had Zach Johnson, who is on the tour’s policy board. If Paramour had let Woods and Harrington skate, other players would have—justifiably—screamed.

Tiger doesn’t like ANYONE telling him anything at anytime. “You’re on the clock,” no doubt made him angry. So, he ripped Paramour when it was over, knowing most people in the public, not understanding the rules, would probably side with him because, well, he’s Tiger Woods.

Then came the AP story that he’d been fined for ripping Paramour. Soon after that came Tiger saying he hadn’t been fined.

This is yet another example of the tour’s RIDICULOUS secrecy on fines. Every other sport in the world announces fines because the money is meaningless. The only deterrent is the embarrassment. Woods is the most fined player in the history of the tour because of all of his various outbursts: slamming clubs, profanity, his caddy’s often ludicrous behavior.

But, since the fines are never announced, they don’t affect his image or his marketing. He doesn’t like the fines—complains at times that they’re unfair because, unlike other players he always has cameras and microphones following him—but has done nothing through the years to control his temper.

Now, he says he wasn’t fined. Someone inside the tour said Monday he was. Doug Ferguson at the AP does NOT get stuff like this wrong, I can promise you that.

So, because of the tour’s Dick Cheney-like belief in secrecy, we don’t know what happened.

Here are the possibilities; Commissioner Tim Finchem got cold feet and withdrew the fine. OR: Tiger has not yet received the paperwork from the tour so he was technically correct on Tuesday when he said he hadn’t been fined. I’m inclined to think the former but we just don’t know—and we should know.

Paramour did the right thing. The tour, if it did fine Tiger, did the right thing. In fact, Tiger owes Paramour an apology which will happen the same day he calls me and says, “Hey John, I’m ready to do my book and tell people what I really think and I want YOU to write it.”

If Finchem really cares about pace of play AND about the behavior of his players he will change the fine policy. Announce every one of them. I will bet serious money you’ll see a lot less club slamming if he ever does that.

But he won’t do it in part because he somehow thinks he’s protecting the “image of the game,” (he told me that once) and because he knows Tiger’s bigger than the game. (He never told me that but we all know it’s true).

I will leave you today with one question, which I know is rhetorical but I can’t resist: Throughout Vermont there are signs that say, “Moose Crossing,”—they are everywhere. My question is this: how do the moose know where they are supposed to cross?


Anonymous said...

Any idea of how much Tiger has been fined over the years? I'd love to see the comparison of him vs. the bad boys in other sports.

Anonymous said...

John, you WRITE a book not "right'.

Anonymous said...


You told us we were going to get a report on annoying/stupid questions from your TV tour. Nothing good to report?? I enjoy the blog

RobinArlington said...

The camera caught Tiger letting out a "GD" after his hooked tee shot on 16. Is there a technical issue with putting a 7 second delay on golf broadcasts?

It doesn't bother me so much. One of my favorite golf buddies drops 1-2 GDs every time we play. But he does it with such brio it's become de rigeur.

Junior, I'm looking forward to the reunion of you and TK on his show (even though he's going to be making more money for the undeserving Danny).

Vince Spence said...

Junior, you knucklehead. You wrote, "Tiger doesn’t like ANYONE telling him anything at anytime". Do you know that to be a fact? You wrote it. Is it accurate? Words like ANYONE, anything and anytime are pretty defining and does not leave much margin for discussion.

Tiger has been in the public eye since 1996 and then for only 15-16 weeks per year and in each week for about five days and each day for about 5-6 hours. That leaves millions of hours for Tiger to have been told things by his Father and Mother. I am sure his golf coaches and school teachers have told him things. I bet his wife occasionally tells him some things.

I have no idea what your problem with TW is, but it is so transparent. Spewing venom is usually not your style. And, it does not become you or anyone else, you idiot.

P.S. I love your books. You found your niche writing books, please stick to it. It is the only thing you do well. Who do you think you are - Kornheiser?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Spence - you are really taking on the comments about Tiger with THAT argument, that his wife, coaches, teachers and parents have told him what to do?

Jim said...

I was watching this event on Sunday. It seems rather silly to put the final group "on the clock" unless they were being nudged by CBS to finish the round for the top of hour, 6PM EDT. Not like they were holding anyone behind them up. Officials can use discretion in situations like this. Paramour used poor judgement and it effected the outcome of the event.

Glen said...

Jim - if everyone else is on the clock, why shouldn't the final pair be? It seems like an unfair advantage if they get to take all the time they want but everyone who preceded them has a time limit, doesn't it?

Vince Spence said...

Mr. Anonymous - I have no idea who you are.