Tiger Woods' chivalrous defence of Padraig Harrington's speed of play during the gripping conclusion to the Bridgestone Invitational tournament on Sunday has led to a fine being imposed on the multi-millionaire world No 1. Woods, who eventually won the prestigious WGC event by four strokes, reckoned the margin would have been much tighter if Harrington had been allowed to negotiate the tricky 16th hole at Firestone in his own time.
The Irishman had been warned and put "on the clock" by John Paramor, the European Tour's chief referee, and, according to Woods, rushed a couple of important shots on the way to a disastrous and decisive triple-bogey eight. Woods was one stroke behind Harrington beforehand but suddenly found himself three shots to the good (he birdied the par five hole) and coasted to the 70th victory of his professional career.
He disclosed as he spoke about his latest triumph that he had told Harrington that he was sorry that Paramor had "got in the way of a great battle". Woods commented on Harrington's over-hit approach to the green and subsequent chip from rough into greenside water. "I don't think that Paddy would have hit the pitch shot that way if he was able to take his time, look at it, analyse it," he said. "But he was on the clock, had to get up there quickly and hit it."
The PGA Tour have a policy not to publicise fines they impose on their members but a rules official leaked the punishment - trivial to a man as wealthy as Woods -- to news agencies. The Tour's official handbook contains a reference to offences like that of Woods. "It is an obligation of membership to refrain from comments to the news media that unreasonably attack or disparage tournaments, sponsors, fellow members, players, or the PGA Tour," it states.