Tiger’s Suspension Fake News Maybe
Sounded A Lot More Dire Than It Probably Is
Today, It got a superb lesson in reading news bulletins coming out of the PGA. In this world of increasing misinformation, we are seeing more than news that is simply either true or not true. There is also hyperbolic news, incomplete news, speculative news that sounds like a foregone conclusion, and in all cases, news with a great sense of theater at work behind it. How are we supposed to ferret the true meaning of such announcements out? An article has appeared claiming that Tiger Woods, after all this drama we’ve gone through for years and years, has been suspended from the PGA Tour.
Suspended? I thought, “Are you telling me that this is the final death throes of one of the greatest golf careers ever? How could someone start so high, and fade away like a whimper, instead of the leonine event that is required of such a great player?” One title that read, “Sad Day for the PGA” left me wondering if at the least, Tiger was being given the Pete Rose sentence, banned from the professional game of golf for life, or at the worst, going to the gallows. Apparently, the talk of Tiger receiving any suspension at all came from occassional tour golfer Dan Olsen. In an interview, he suggested that he was told by a strong witness, a “credible person,” that Tiger was indeed being punished for a drug violation, and that the offending substance was not testosterone, but “something else.” Olsen summoned the support of silent others by observing that this was not only his own opinion, and laid it on thicker and thicker for the interviewer. Comparing the matter with Lance Armstrong and his banishment from international cycling, in particular the Tour de France, Olsen speculated that in the end, no one would remember all of the lurid family stuff that started Tiger’s litany of woes. He reportedly remarked that once everything comes out, it’s “gonna surpass Lance Armstrong with infamy.”
Then came a second issue. Olesen mentioned in passing that in his opinion, Tiger had been playing for quite a while with an illegal golf ball, made by Nike. With the information I am able to find, I am still not sure what properties of this golf ball place it outside of the accepted technology, and yet Olsen continued to call it a “cheater ball.” He further suggested that he very much doubted if the Nike Ball had been tested. In fact, he said, “I would almost bet” that it had not
Ty Votaw is, not surprisingly, in a stew over the whole affair. If, indeed, Tiger failed to pass a random drug test, a policy that has been commonplace for some time now, the PGA is obligated to announce that a suspension has been handed down. If it is true, the tour has different paths it can take either no action, a one-month suspension, or a year-long suspension, etc. So far, Votaw declares “Uh-uh…not happening.” His actual words included, “Unsourced, unverified…completely ridiculous.” My guess is that if Tiger is suspended, we’d better wait to hear it from Votaw. On the golf ball matter, I feel fairly confident that an outfit like Nike is not going to charge into professional golf without knowing the rules of the product. Phil Knight is a smart guy, and would surely think of such a thing before releasing a ‘cheater ball.’
I can only imagine what Tiger has been through in the medical sense to get his muscles and nerves to obey so that he can get on with his golfing life. The “something else” to which Olsen refers may indeed be on the no-no list, but I don’t think Tiger runs much risk of being drummed out of the corps. If he gets suspended for a month, he wasn’t going to play during those weeks anyway, and even the Masters looks doubtful at this point.
As for Olsen, he has walked back his observations, and has retracted everything he said in the entire interview. However, if he was right, there’s more story coming. If he’s wrong, perhaps he should be suspended for week or two. Concentrate on golf instead of grapevine journalism.