Graeme McDowell wished he had never uttered a word about Tiger Woods last week at Bay Hill -- especially the part about the waning "invincibility" of the world No. 1.
It would be a shame if the winner of the 2010 U.S. Open decided the kickback from comments that some apparently construed as far more inflammatory than they appeared to be, silenced the voice of one of the PGA Tour’s most straightforward sources. GMac may also need to tune out whatever vitriol caused him to take to Twitter on Thursday in his own defense.
Getting past Tiger
Getting past Tiger
To recap: Woods’ questionable fitness two weeks before Augusta, combined with the abysmal start to his 2014 season, has everyone from Tiger’s ex-caddie to Steve Williams’ current boss, Adam Scott, speculating about whether the 14-time major champion has lost the mystical aura that purportedly turned opponents into quivering puddles of jello (an air of inevitability that Y.E. Yang stole from him at Hazeltine in 2009).
So when the question arose last week, GMac weighed in on the Tiger talk du jour.
"He’s lost that sort of force field of invincibility around him," McDowell told PGATour.com’s Brian Wacker some time during the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which Woods, as defending champ, was forced to miss because of lingering back pain. "The aura is not as strong. He's still Tiger Woods, still the greatest player ever in my opinion.
"I don't remember the first time I played with him but there was a real ‘wow’ factor," he added. "He was playing a different sport than me. But guys get older, stuff happens."
McDowell must have taken some heat over his comments because his tweets sought to clarify statements that no doubt offended some and cheered others.
I spent 90% of my press conference last week at Bay Hill being asked questions about Tiger, speculating about where his game is right now...— Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell) March 27, 2014
...Many of my quotes have been taken out of context and spun quite negatively. It's hard for me to comment on Tiger in the early 2000s....— Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell) March 27, 2014
...I can only say that he has raised the bar so much in the sport globally and players are so much better equipped to win these days...— Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell) March 27, 2014
...He seems more beatable nowadays simply because the players around him are better and have more belief thanks to Tiger moving the needle.— Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell) March 27, 2014
...I really shouldn't get caught up in speculation and opinion especially when talking about TW. You set yourself up for failure. #nocomment— Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell) March 27, 2014
Prior to last week’s Bay Hill contest, McDowell, who has beaten Woods in head-to-head competition but regularly touts the PGA Tour’s cash cow as the best golfer to play the game, noted that Tiger’s competition was indeed growing fiercer. He still, however, gave major props to the guy currently in sick bay who’s been known to take names and kick ass.
"Winning major championships is getting harder and harder for everyone, including the best player maybe that’s ever lived, in Tiger," McDowell said last Wednesday. "He’s got more than just his body to be fighting. There’s a lot of great players in the world now. Everyone is getting better."
Hardly worthy of Stephen Ames-like backlash, but, um, take that, Tiger.