There are rumblings within the golf community about RBC Canadian Open tournament director Bill Paul’s remarks about Tiger Woods during the press conference to announce players and charitable donations on Tuesday. When asked about Tiger Woods and his absence from the event (yet again — he hasn’t appeared since 2001), Paul had this to say:
“Having walked with Tiger for two holes at The Players, I think we will have the premier players here. He wasn’t hitting it too well!”
Both Mike Weir and Nathan Green looked uncomfortable with the comment. Weir considers Woods a friend and I’d expect he’ll lobby for Woods to come at some point — especially considering Weir’s foundation is a beneficiary of the tournament. The quote appeared widely after the press conference and was in a Toronto Sun column today.
So the question is this: what does Paul accomplish by putting down Woods? Does he make the field better? Or does he simply hurt the chances of Woods coming in the future? Maybe Woods is never coming back, but given all that RBC has done to improve the status of the event, I’m sure they weren’t pleased about the comment either. All they need is another excuse for Woods not to show up.
I asked Golf Canada executive director Scott Simmons about the comment and he responded by e-mail:
I must admit I didn’t give the Tiger comments 2 seconds thought. Bill and Tiger are good friends so I’m sure Bill didn’t say anything on Tuesday that he hasn’t already had candid chats with Tiger on. No one has mentioned anything to me.
Since another golf journalist walked up to me at an event last night and mentioned the same thing, and someone closely involved with the tournament pointed out how uncomfortable Weir and Green looked after the remark, I don’t think I’m alone in thinking some weren’t happy about the apparently playful quip. On top of this, several IMG representatives were in attendance. IMG, for those who don’t know, represent both Weir and Woods, among others.
Paul is always candid and quite funny. He usually comes up with the straight goods. I think his remark this time was unfortunate, especially since it was widely quoted in the ensuing media.
While writing this, Paul called to clarify his comments. He said as soon as he made the remark he realized, “That didn’t come out the right way.”
He said he spoke briefly with Woods at the Players Championship (where Woods withdrew with a neck injury), but didn’t raise the issue of whether the world’s best player would come to Canada in July.
“There were a lot of things on his mind that week, and whether he was going to play the Canadian Open wasn’t one of them,” Paul says. “I didn’t even take the conversation there.”
As for the comment, Paul says: “I don’t think it came out right. In no way was it meant to be a put down of Tiger.”
In other news, Simmons confirmed Steve Stricker has a conflict with a corporate outing and will not be coming to Canada. So much for that jet ride the RCGA gave him a few years back. Does he owe them one?