Truth & Rumors: Tiger may not get belted
Golf's most fashionable new trend? Tiger-bashing. In Scotland, the great-great grandson of Old Tom Morris doesn't want Tiger Woods to receive a replica of the historic original belt given to British Open champions should Woods win another Open this summer at the Old Course in St. Andrews. Old Tom's grandson doesn't think Young Tiger is worthy--not because of his golf or because of his womanizing but because of his bad on-course behavior over the years.
Martin Dempster covers the Tiger-bashing story for The Scotsman, and explains how it's all tied in to a plan by the venerable Prestwick Golf Club, the Open's original site, to award a replica red belt to this year's winner, similar to what was given to Old Tom's son, Young Tom Morris, when he won his third Open title in 1870. Young Tom died at 24 and when Old Tom passed away in 1908, the traditional belt was returned to the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, which has kept the belt on display in the R&A clubhouse in St. Andrews.
The idea of awarding a replica belt this year was a nod to tradition but Melvyn Morrow, 60, a descendant of Old Tom's, isn't keen on potentially having Woods involved. Morrow told The Scotsman:
"I want Prestwick to present the belt. However, I do not believe that past champions who held the original belt with great honor should have to accept that poorly behaved sportsmen will have a right to wear one, even a replica."
In a letter to Prestwick, Morrow requested their support for his stance...
"It's not about his ladies or private problem; it's his course conduct that I am totally against," added Morrow. "It's his language and course etiquette. Such language is bad enough for a pro, but to throw his clubs when spectators are close by is not acceptable. It is not necessarily just Tiger Woods, but he is probably the worst offender when it comes to throwing clubs. When he threw a club over the top of the gallery at the Australian Masters last November, it was one of the worst offences I had ever seen. If the club had been two feet lower it would have done serious damage to someone yet no one did anything.
"I want assurance that course etiquette will be upheld. It's not just Tiger; it applies to all players throwing clubs... and goes to the heart of golf and course etiquette, or should I say the decline of the modern game. The poor standards we seem to be faced with today annoys me and no one seems to be doing a thing to clean it up... It is a dreadful shame that the club could not ask the R&A to deal a bit more severely with these sorts of things. It would be a shame if the belt went to any Tom, Dick or Harry."
As opposed to any Old Tom, Old Dick or Old Harry, presumably.
So it doesn't count as bashing, perhaps, but the word is that the divorce negotiations between Tiger and Elin Nordegren have taken a turn toward the hardball arena. According to the Chicago Sun-Times gossip column, Elin has upped her financial demand to $750 million (a decided bump up from pre-Christmas reports of a $300 million number) and wants full custody of the children. What does Tiger want? Elin to agree to a lifetime confidentiality clause to prevent her from writing a book or say, telling all on 60 Minutes.
Kim swings in her heels
In women's golf, this year's media star is almost sure to be Christina Kim. She has a book out, co-written with SI's Alan Shipnuck, and she's always a great interview. The only thing keeping the affable Kim from being a superstar is winning a bunch of tournaments, including majors.
Kim was the life of the party at a book-signing appearance at the New York area's Chelsea Piers golf range, as related by Brendan Punty in the Star-Ledger:
Immediately upon entering, Kim was the center of attention. Scratch that, her shoes were the center of attention. Four-inch Rene Caovilla stiletto heels with black burano lace, glittered in Swarovski's crystal chains, to be exact.
A pair costs $1000. It is the type of shoe you don't wear outside, to be looked at, not touched. It is the type of shoe that Kim, on a dar, stepped onto the driving range wearing and prepared to take a swing. Her book party hushed. She's not really doing this, is she? Please don't fall.
Kim ripped the drive straight down the middle and off the back of the net, 200 yards away. And then for good measure, she did it again. Twice.
“That’s impressive!” Kim exclaimed, stepping off the mat. “But I think I was a little off the heels on the last one.”
Gone from the tour is the poise of Annika Sorenstam and the grace of Lorena Ochoa. The tour is still waiting for someone from the Brittany Lincicome/Morgan Pressel/Michelle Wie trio to step up, but so far, no one has claimed the title of the LPGA’s most visible player.
So in stepped Kim. As the Sybase Match Play Championship begins at Hamilton Farm Golf Club in Gladstone, she doesn’t have the litany of tour wins, or the demure attitude of her stoic predecessors (i.e. Sorenstam, Ochoa). But she has popularity — lots of it. And with the current recovery state of the LPGA, that’s worth just as much.
In short, Kim is a walking, talking, golfing tornado who just might be exactly what the LPGA needs right now.
“The nice thing about Christina is that it’s all important to her,” said Michael Whan, the LPGA commissioner. “Who the sponsor is, why they’re doing it, it’s all important.”
Just Wednesday morning, she spent all 18 holes of her pro-am round (which began at 7:20 a.m.), cracking jokes and giving suggestions to her playing partners. At the end of it all, she got hugs and high-fives — and an offer for some Pearl Jam tickets from one of her playing partners. Just another day at the office.
“My philosophy has always been, ‘Go big or go home,’ ” Kim said.