Tiger Woods criticized Hall of Fame golf writer Dan Jenkins on Tuesday for a parody in which Jenkins fakes an interview with him and covers topics from his reputation as a bad tipper to his failed marriage to his six-year drought in the majors.
The online headline of the Golf Digest column is “My (Fake) Interview with Tiger,” with an asterisk to add, “Or how it plays out in my mind.” The print edition of the magazine has “fake” in parentheses on the cover, but not in the headline above the column.
Woods rarely goes public with his criticism of stories written about him. But on Tuesday, he wrote a guest column for Derek Jeter’s new website, http://www.theplayerstribune.com , which is a forum for athletes to connect directly with fans. The title of Woods’ column was “Not True, Not Funny.”
He said the fake interview “fails as parody, and is really more like grudge-fueled piece of character assassination.”
Jenkins, who has been covering the majors for more than 60 years, was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011. While he has covered all the greats dating to Ben Hogan, he never was granted a private interview with the 14-time major champion early in Woods’ career.
“I like to think I have a good sense of humor, and that I’m more than willing to laugh at myself,” Woods wrote. “I’ve been playing golf for a long time, 20 years on the PGA Tour. I’ve given lots of interviews to journalists in all that time, more than I could count, and some have been good and some not so much. … But this concocted article was below the belt.
“Good-natured satire is one thing, but no fair-minded writer would put someone in the position of having to publicly deny that he mistreats his friends, takes pleasure in firing people and stiffs on tips – and a lot of other slurs, too.”
Jenkins said on Twitter after Woods’ response, “My next column for Tiger: defining parody and satire. I thought I let him off easy.” He declined further comment.
In the “fake” interview, Jenkins asked why Woods hasn’t fired longtime agent Mark Steinberg.
Q: Why haven’t you fired Steiny, by the way? You’ve fired everybody else. …
A: I’ll probably get around to it. I like to fire people. It gives me something to do when I’m not shaping my shots.
Jenkins also had a series of questions related to Woods crashing his car into a fire hydrant on Thanksgiving night in 2009 at the onset of revelations that he had multiple extramarital affairs.
Q: You haven’t talked about it, but after all of those New York Post front pages during the scandal, what’s the moral of your story?
A: That’s easy. Don’t get caught.
Q: You named your yacht Privacy. Because you’re a worldwide celebrity, do you really expect and demand privacy?
A: I thought about renaming it Serenity, but that pretty much went out the door when the 9-iron hit the window of the Escalade.
Jenkins served up a couple of phony questions on Woods’ reputation as a bad tipper.
Q: I don’t get it. For a guy who can certainly afford it, you’ve become famous for being a bad tipper. It’s almost like you take pride in it.
A: I just don’t understand why you’re supposed to tip people for doing a job they’re already getting paid to do.
Q: In many cases tips are expected to be part of their salary.
A: So let `em go find a better job.
Woods was a playing editor for Golf Digest for 13 years, a relationship that began after his historic victory in the 1997 Masters. Woods and the magazine ended the deal in January 2011 when they couldn’t agree on how many hours Woods should devote.
In his guest column, Woods said of Jenkins, “Frustration or resentment because I have not been more available to him should not give him a license for an underhanded attack on me as an athlete, as a professional and as a person.”
“I guess Golf Digest’s editors believe this is a good way to sell more magazines,” Woods wrote. “I’ll bet their readers don’t think so. Funny they didn’t think this poorly of me when I worked with the magazine. I have to say I was surprised when I saw this piece came from Jenkins, who is one of the most distinguished golf writers out there.”
Woods said he has let “plenty of things slide” during his career, but not this one.
“The sheer nastiness of this attack, the photos and how it put false words in my mouth just had to be confronted,” he said.
Woods has not played since he missed the cut at the PGA Championship. He had back surgery a week before the Masters and missed three months in the summer, and then took three more months to rebuild his strength. He is scheduled to return Dec. 4 at his Hero World Challenge in Florida.
Woods included a link to the letter sent to Golf Digest by Steinberg and spokesman Glenn Greenspan that asks for a written apology.
“Read it, and the original piece if you have to, and decide for yourself what’s fair,” Woods wrote in the column.