Did you read Dan Jenkins’ interview with me in the latest Golf Digest? I hope not. Because it wasn’t me. It was some jerk he created to pretend he was talking to me. That’s right, Jenkins faked an interview, which fails as parody, and is really more like a grudge-fueled piece of character assassination.
Journalistically and ethically, can you sink any lower?
I like to think I have a good sense of humor, and that I’m more than willing to laugh at myself. In this game, you have to. 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. All athletes know that we will be under scrutiny from the media. 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. Some lowlights if you haven’t seen the fake story:
Dan: “Why haven’t you fired Steiny, by the way? You’ve fired everybody else …”
Tiger: “I’ll probably get around to it. I like to fire people …”
Dan: “In many cases, tips are a part of their salary.”
Tiger: “So let ‘em go find a better job.”
Dan: “Marko (O’Meara) was your best friend in golf at one time.”
Tiger: “I’m sorry. I can’t place him. Did he play the tour?”
Golf Digest even hired an actor to pose as me in photos. The truth is, Jenkins has no idea how I think or feel about any of the things he claims to know about, which is why he had to make things up. 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. 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.
Fortunately, invented fiction like this is not at all what I hear on tour from the fans. It’s not the type of feedback I get from them, especially when I’ve been hurt or going through a tough stretch. Fans’ encouragement is what really matters to me. I know it’s coming from a good place, and that it’s sincere, not cynical.
Whether it’s misreported information or opinions I think are way off base, I let plenty of things slide. But this time I can’t do that. The sheer nastiness of this attack, the photos and how it put false words in my mouth just had to be confronted.
My representatives and I asked Golf Digest for an explanation, some reason for what I think is journalistically wrong and a pretty cheap shot. Digest responded by saying it was Dan’s humor, and they didn’t think it was unfair or they wouldn’t have run it. Those aren’t great answers.
This is the first in a series of columns we’re calling “Straight Up.” It’s a place where athletes can offer their side on something that has been written or said about them.