CanOpen Faux Pas: Tiger Not a "Premier" Player?


Tiger on the prowl: Woods and the Match Play

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.”

Fair enough.

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?

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Jeff Lancaster

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  • This should be a non story. Tiger is not playing well…everyone knows it…Bill Paul should not be criticized for saying something obvious that everyone talks about. The reaction to someone stating this in a public forum is another example of people treading carefully around Tiger.

    Enough already. It is this “fawning” attitude by the media in general that gave rise to Tiger’s arrogance and entitlement. Have people not learned their lesson?

  • Robert…..Jim Furyk a couple of years ago on a few occasions was quoted as saying he would likely return to the Canadian Open in the years they were at golf courses like Hamilton. With St. George’s being of similar quality are we likely to see Jim in the field? Thanks.

  • its a non-story and maybe taken the wrong way, it was a joke not a put down. anyone worrying about it should take a pill. Tiger is still #1, doesn’t like the hassle of coming across the border (unless he’s making a GM ad while a strike is on in the us). he’ll be back, soon as RBC buys his bag!

  • I wouldn’t buy Tiger’s bag or anything else he may be trying to sell. There are a lot more worthy individuals out there . . . and many of them are coming to this year’s Canadian Open . . .I would just like to experience a Canadian Open without any rain for the four tournament days . . . that will more than make up for Tiger’s absence . . . as Weir said on Tuesday . . . “the RBC” as players are calling it now is right there among the top events on Tour after the 4 majors and World Golf Championship events . . .

  • Tiger stated, a year ago, that he wouldn’t play the Canadian Open in its current scheduling date following The Open and preceeding the WGC and PGA Championship.

    Reality? Bill Paul made a bad joke. He took a shot at Tiger Woods. He is not ‘friends’ with Tiger Woods, and it will likely get back to Tiger who is an epic grudge holder. Bill Paul is probably frustrated. I mean being TD of the Canadian Open has, in recent years, been like trying to get the cool kids to come to a high school party with no booze and two too many parents in attendance. It’s not happening too easily for him, and being constantly rebuffed by the game’s top players has to be frustrating. Eventually, if he’s not careful, he’ll grow to resent those top draws (Mickelson, Woods).

    Looks like that’s happening because when Tiger was down…way down…Bill Paul thought it was a good idea to take a crack at him. As if Paul’s sense of humour wasn’t bad enough (it really was NOT so funny to make fun of a guy who sprayed it all over the place while injured, getting divorced and recovering from 6 months off), Paul’s sense of timing was even worse. Anyone else feel the irony dripping off the walls? Paul is struggling to get players to the CDN open…yet here in a VERY public forum, he takes a stab at one of them. Epic fail.

    p.s. neither is Mike Weir ‘friends’ with Woods. Weir plays probably 12 events a year that Tiger is at, for a total of 60 days maximum that they’re in the same city as each other. That’s it, despite calling him ‘Weirsy’ to appease Canadian media types and intimate that he gives a shit about our top pro. They’re not buds.

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