Woods still critical of rules official
CHASKA, Minn. -- Tiger Woods did not back down Tuesday from his criticism of a rules official after the final round of Sunday's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and said he did not incur a fine by the PGA Tour for his comments.
Woods again took issue with being put on the clock at the 16th tee Sunday by longtime European Tour rules official John Paramor and felt it unfairly impacted the play of Padraig Harrington, who made triple-bogey 8 on the hole that led to Woods' victory.
The Irishman held a 1-shot lead over Woods at the time but walked to the 17th tee 3 strokes behind after Woods made birdie.
"I thought they would have used better judgment on that considering we were the ones that were probably going to win the golf tournament in the last group," Woods said from Hazeltine National Golf Club, where the PGA Championship begins on Thursday. "We separated ourselves.
Mike and Mike in the Morning
1991 British Open winner Ian Baker-Finch says Tiger will only consider this year as a success if he wins a major and this weekend is his last chance. Baker-Finch says if Tiger doesn't win, he will take Lee Westwood.
"And after what Paddy went through [he hit his fourth shot in the water], we were still right there behind the group in front of us. So I don't know if the group in front of us was being timed or not. They didn't look like they were rushing. But it certainly influenced us in how we played and influenced the outcome of the tournament. That's not how you want to have the tournament come to an end," he said.
Woods said a report saying he would be fined for his comments about the rules officials was not true; although PGA Tour officials never announce fines and rarely comment on them, vice president Ty Votaw confirmed that Woods has not been fined.
"There has been no process started with respect to any disciplinary action," Votaw said. "The commissioner [Tim Finchem] was surprised when he read the article. Based on the reports he read, Tiger's comments related to the impact of the [rules] decision and we did not read them as being an unreasonable attack or disparaging."
Harrington and Woods were locked in one of the year's best duels at the World Golf Championship event. Harrington had taken a 3-stroke lead into the final round, which Woods erased in a matter of four holes. Woods, after a front-nine 30, led by 2 at the turn but then fell behind by a stroke after consecutive bogeys at the 13th and 14th holes.
Earlier in the round, the group had been warned about slow play. Both Paramor and PGA Tour rules official Slugger White said the twosome was 17 minutes behind, which is why Woods and Harrington were put on the clock.
Once that happens, there are time limits in place to play a shot. A player is allowed one bad time but during the course of the rest of the round, another bad time can mean a 1-stroke penalty. Such a penalty has not been assessed on the PGA Tour since the early 1990s.
"That's why I said what I said, because that certainly affected how Paddy played the hole, and how the outcome of the tournament ... he was in control of the event," Woods said. "He was 1-up with three holes to go and he had a par-5 [to play]. And when we were put on the clock, it certainly changed everything."
Woods went on to record a 4-stroke victory over Harrington, his fifth of the year and 70th of his PGA Tour career. He will be seeking his 15th major title this week at Hazeltine and first since winning the 2008 U.S. Open.
Harrington is the defending PGA champion but went into a nearly yearlong slump after winning his third career major at Oakland Hills. The swing changes he attempted to make finally paid off at the Bridgestone, where he shot an opening-round 64 and still held the lead until Sunday's 16th hole.
"We were having a great battle," Harrington said Tuesday at Hazeltine. "I was enjoying it. I reacted poorly to the situation and that's my own fault. It's part of the rules that these things are going to happen. It would have been probably better if it happened earlier in the round.
"As regards to what he said, I think it's easier having won the tournament. He can take the moral high ground and say what he wants. Having lost the tournament, I'm going to sit back. ... I'm going to take it on the chin and say it was my mistake," he said.
Both players arrived in Minnesota on Sunday night and played practice rounds Monday and Tuesday. Woods was at the course both days before 7 a.m. and plans to take Wednesday off to work on his game.
Woods and Harrington will see each other again on Thursday morning as they are paired together -- along with 2002 champion Rich Beem -- for the first two rounds. They begin play at 9:35 a.m. ET off the 10th tee.
Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.
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