Tiger Woods defends China tourney snub, welcomes air-clearing chat with Tom Watson

Warren Little

Tiger Woods, like every other golfer on the PGA and European Tours, answers to no one but himself when it comes to his playing time.

Tiger Woods, who brought Istanbul traffic to a halt on Tuesday as he swatted golf balls into Asia from a bridge in Turkey, defended his decision to skip last week’s World Golf Championship event in China and said he would likely hash out his differences with Tom Watson in the coming months.

"No, we haven’t spoken yet," Woods, referring to the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup captain who scolded Tiger after his extra-marital affairs came to light four years ago, told reporters gathered for the Turkish Airlines Open. "But I am sure as we have another year plus or about a year ahead of us, so there will be a lot of time between now and then to talk."

The two have yet to address any problems between that two that may linger after Watson’s sanctimonious criticism of Woods’ private life, which went public after Thanksgiving night 2009.

"It’s something he needs to get control of and get a handle of and he needs to make some amends and show some humility to the public when he comes back," Watson said back in 2010. "His swearing and his club-throwing, that should end. That’s not part of what we want to project as far as the professional golf tour is concerned."

He also told Woods to "clean up his act ... and show respect for the game," be responsible for his actions, "get his personal life in order," and "show some humility."

Earlier this year, Watson said he and the world No. 1 would likely meet for a chit-chat about this and that prior to the Ryder Cup matches, slated for next September at Gleneagles.

"I really have not sat down with Tiger since then, though I did sit down beside him at the former champions dinner at this year’s U.S. Open and we just had a normal conversation," Watson said during a promotional event at the Scottish site of next year’s matches. "I will have a sit-down with him. I will need to do that with everybody."

Ahead of Thursday’s opening round at The Montgomerie Maxx Royal, Woods also took issue with criticism from organizers of the WGC-HSBC Champions tourney, which he chose to miss for the second straight year in lieu of a lucrative exhibition game with Rory McIlroy and some sponsor business.

Calling himself an "independent contractor," the 14-time major winner told James Corrigan that his status allowed him to play where and when it suited him, despite HSBC’s head of global sponsorship and events Giles Morgan maligning Woods for his no-show.

In golf’s silly season following the FedExCup series, Woods clearly chooses to take the money and run, which is his prerogative as a freelance golfer. He pocketed a reported $1.5 million for showing up at the "Match at Mission Hills" and losing to McIlroy by a stroke, and another $3 million for his start in Turkey, which he heralded with his golf shot heard ‘round the world -- or at least between two continents. (His traffic-snarling PR stunt was front-page news in most Turkish publications Wednesday morning.)

With this week’s tilt the third of four events in the "Final Series," the European Tour’s version of the PGA Tour’s FedExCup playoffs, Woods weighed in on the brannigan brewing over mandatory playing time for golfers trying to qualify for next week’s season-ending DP World Championship in Dubai. Competitors must start two of the first three competitions to be eligible for the finale, though three top players -- Ernie Els, Charl Schwartzel, and Sergio Garcia -- are boycotting in protest of the requirement.

Woods backed the threesome, noting that everyone needs time off to recharge, while Corrigan observed that Euro Tour officials were expected to announce next week plans to ditch the two-tourney mandate going forward.

"I think some of the guys are a little worn out," said Woods, who has played a limited schedule for some time. "Guys like Ernie and Charl also go back home and support their home tours down in South Africa, so they are playing the year-round non-stop.

"They are playing a global game," Woods added. "Ernie is probably, of my generation ... has travelled more than anyone to play golf, and I can certainly understand where he's coming from."

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