Maybe it’s something in the water Down Under. Days after Greg Norman claimed Tiger Woods "can’t keep up with Rory [McIlroy]," Australia’s answer to Donald Trump chirped that 53-year-old Australian Open winner Peter Senior could take the 14-time major champ with one hand tied behind his back.
"Tiger Woods isn't the No. 1 golfer in the world any more," Clive Palmer, owner of Palmer Coolum Resort, site of last week’s Australian PGA tournament, told The Australian’s Brent Read in an article published Monday. "We don't want to look backwards, we want to look forwards. So why would you get Tiger Woods here? I would prefer to have Peter Senior than Tiger Woods.
"I am sure Peter Senior could beat Tiger Woods on a good day," Palmer, whose track is best known for Jeff, the 26-foot robotic dinosaur that roars and wags its tail when golfers approach its spot between the ninth green and 10th tee. "I am sure he could."
And we’re sure that even Jeff believes Clive Palmer is one barmy bloke.
To recap, the Australian PGA nearly cancelled last week’s event after dust-ups with Palmer over his determination to line the fairways with signage promoting his business and political dealings, write "Freedom of Speech" in huge letters across the 15th fairway, hold a memorial for John F. Kennedy on the ninth hole during Saturday’s third round, and Jeff.
Though it seemed almost certain that the tourney would not return to Coolum in 2013, Palmer resorted to inflammatory taunts to get the tour back to his theme park.
"There should be international golfers coming here," Palmer said, off-handedly insulting 2011 British Open winner Darren Clarke, among other global players in the field last week. "The fact that there is not indicates I would say that the paid-officers section of the PGA can do better. They have been very, very comfortable not having to do better.
"If you're not expanding, you're contracting. Golf is a great game. It needs to expand," said Palmer, whose bombast could rival that of the U.S.’ own business tycoon and golf entrepreneur with far funnier hair than his Australian counterpart. "So it needs to have people working for it that are not confrontational and want to do deals."
Australian PGA Tour chief executive Brian Thorburn would have none of it. Palmer determined the event would not occur before the Australian Open of a week earlier, as the tour had requested, said Thorburn. He also noted that Rickie Fowler, who played Coolum in 2011, rebuffed overtures to play this year because the contest was too close to Christmas.
The Australian’s Read said that the tour had approached Woods and McIlroy, although tournament host Palmer wanted nothing to do with the former No. 1, who, as far as we can tell, has never played in the event and likely never will.
"Tiger Woods has improved a lot," said Palmer, the sour grapes apparently roiling his insides as he figuratively stuck his tongue out at the 74-time U.S. PGA Tour winner, "but he's an emotional wreck and he's not a good example for kids, anyway."