T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.
Brandel Chamblee on Tiger Woods grade: 'I went too far'
Series: Golf Buzz
Published: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 | 6:58 p.m.
TV analyst Brandel Chamblee took to the Golf Channel on Wednesday evening to address his controversial column that appeared on Golf.com two weeks ago, in which Chamblee gave Tiger Woods a grade of "F" for the 2013 season.
Woods, a five-time winner in 2013 and the PGA Tour's Player of the Year, was given the harsh grade for, "being a little cavalier with the rules," Chamblee wrote.
Chamblee compared Woods's incidents with the rules -- three in total, one resulting in a disqualification -- to his own cheating incident on a math test in the fourth grade.
In a sit-down interview with Rich Lerner on Golf Central, Chamblee admitted he crossed a line.
"In offering my assessment of Tiger's year and specifically looking at the incidents in Abu Dhabi, Augusta, Ponte Vedra and Chicago, I said Tiger Woods was 'cavalier' about the rules," Chamblee told Lerner. "I should have stopped right there. In comparing those incidents to my cheating episode in the fourth grade, I went too far. Cheating involves intent. I know what my intent was on that fourth-grade math test. But there's no way that I could know, with a hundred percent certainty, what Tiger's intent was in any of those situations. That was my mistake."
Following Chamblee's column, the longtime agent of Woods -- Mark Steinberg -- said he would consider legal action against Chamblee.
"Brandel Chamblee's comments are shameful, baseless and completely out of line," Steinberg told ESPN.com. "In his rulings, Tiger voiced his position, accepted his penalty and moved on. There was no intention to deceive anyone. Chamblee's uninformed and malicious opinions, passed on as facts, and his desperate attempt to garner attention is deplorable."
Woods spoke out on the issue in China earlier this week.
"All I am going to say is that I know I am going forward," Woods said in an AP report, before his exhibition match with Rory McIlroy at Mission Hills. "But then, I don't know what the Golf Channel is going to do or not. But then that's up to them. The whole issue has been very disappointing as he didn't really apologize and he sort of reignited the whole situation.
"So the ball really is in the court of the Golf Channel and what they are prepared to do."
Chamblee did take to Twitter to apologize last week, but Woods wasn't buying the apology.
McIlroy even weighed in at a promotional event Tuesday in the run-up to the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions this week.
"Yeah, I think Brandel was completely wrong," McIlroy said. "I don't think he has the authority to say anything like that about Tiger Woods," the two-time major champion and former No. 1 McIlroy said, according to Agence France-Presse. "People wouldn't know who Brandel Chamblee was if it wasn't for Tiger Woods, so I am completely against what he said and I think he should be dealt with in the right way."
Lerner asked Chamblee if he had a vendetta against Woods.
"Of course not," said Chamblee, who has long been one of the more outspoken critics of Woods's swing changes. "My job as an analyst on Golf Channel requires me to analyze the golf and offer my opinions. I like to think I'm pretty good at that. Tiger Woods is the best player in the game by miles -- maybe the best player of all time. Over the years, I have said a lot of positive things about Tiger's golf swing and his accomplishments. And, at times, I've been critical. But that's my job and my obligation to the viewer -- to not only talk about when Tiger plays well, but when he doesn't play well and put it in perspective, as well as every other player. At times, I can be a bit forceful with my opinions and some would say too forceful too many times. Fair enough. That was obviously the case in this instance. So much so that even my son chimed in on this issue."
Chamblee went on to explain that on rides to and from school, he and his son had a lot of time to talk about the column and the aftermath -- all of which his son had been reading about on the internet.
"In one of our drives, he said, 'Dad, if you had been more diplomatic in what you wrote, perhaps people would be talking more about the issue than your assessment.' He's a smart kid. It wasn't until after he said that, that I offered my apology on Twitter. Maybe I should have let my son read the column before I hit 'send' on the email."
Chamblee said he believes Woods and Steinberg are, "barking up the wrong tree," for calling on Golf Channel for action against him.
"This column appeared on Golf.com," Chamblee said. "Nobody here at Golf Channel even knew anything about it."
"All of this has made me realize that there's a conflict when you work for one company and write for another company," Chamblee said. "So, going forward, I'm not going to be writing for Golf Magazine. Beginning next year, I'm going to be writing exclusively for GolfChannel.com, NBC.com. That way, if Tiger and his camp have an issue with something I write, they can at least be yelling at the right people."
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.