Tiger Woods was forced to withdraw from the Player’s Championship this past weekend because of a neck injury. Immediately speculation started about where the injury came from, whether or not it was related to the car crash on November 27th, and whether or not he was just looking for an out because of his bad play at the Player’s Championship. Maybe the most controversial or distasteful tweet about Tiger’s neck injury came from of all people, Paul Azinger. Azinger, a former PGA Tour Player and major champion, tweeted this comment after it was revealed that Tiger had a neck injury: “Could this have been prevented with a good Swedish Massage?”
Let me first off start by saying I was laughing when I saw his tweet. I thought it was funny, but I also see how it was also in very poor taste. And maybe it was just a joke between two good friends. However, given the timeliness of this tweet and the impending divorce between Tiger and his wife, former Swedish bikini model, Elin Nordegren, I can also see how this could’ve created a little scuttlebutt as well. Maybe next time, Azinger should just keep these kinds of comments that hit so close to home to himself.
Paul Azinger joined ESPN Radio in Chicago with Waddle and Silvy to talk about the state of the PGA Tour right now, how long it may take Tiger to recover from this latest injury, Tiger’s change in swing coach, and he also talks about his controversial tweet.
Overall how’s the PGA Tour feeling these days with the current version of Tiger Woods?
“Well, ya know I guess there’s two Tiger Woods’ now. The one that was just revered by all and now he’s scorned, but when both show up he draws big ratings.”
Is the tour itself a feel good story? How much does the Tour take a hit with Tiger being where he is at right now?
“I think when he plays the ratings are huge you know. I mean Tiger has to re-run his constitution a little bit and re-evaluate who he is and who he wants to be everything about him is a created image. We all create our own image so to speak, the way he plays the game is the way no one ever saw coming. The other day watching him play back at the 2000 U.S. Open it was at a level none of us ever thought possible. Like some cowboys back in the 1800s wrangling cattle, thinking about the internet. I think he is going to pull a massive rating every time he tees it up, whether he is good Tiger or maybe not as revered, now we have people that still over him and people that don’t like him, before it was you know mostly everyone just loved him and marveled at what he did.”
Is there a sense of intimidation on the golf course when Tiger would come for a tournament, and do you feel as though that has gone away with what has happened to Tiger off the course and to how he is playing now on the course?
“Well 2000 I think is when us players first realized this is something we just never imagined possible. Up until The Tour Championship last year where he won the Fed Ex Cup, Mickelson won the cup, Tiger was very intimidating and it looks to me that we are going to see a bit of a downturn in this guy’s game for a while. Maybe six months, a year, two years, who knows? Before he had everything behind him, Elin filed for divorce and it’s gonna be a difficult time. Changing swing coaches now he has to approach the game from a different perspective, a different philosophy maybe, and that’s gonna take some time. Every time he has made a swing change, he has had a down period. What does that down period mean? Not being competitive in majors and not winning anything at all. Can he scratch and claw? The players felt like forever he was winning in spite of what he was doing, not knowing what he was doing. To create that much form in the rotation of the golf swing, it just looked like to all of us that there were six or seven things wrong with his golf swing. When back in 2000 it looked like there were just one or two things to be nit picky about, but who knows what’s going to happen? You know I am a fan too, I am going to sit back and kind of enjoy the remaking of Tiger Woods and see what comes next.”
Will he break Jack’s record?
“Yeah I think that is the question, I still think he will do it. I just think he is too good and I think he will do it. You got to realize he is 33 years old. Now maybe he has to play till he’s 45 to do it. Can you imagine writing Tiger Woods off now? You can’t do it. He’s too good and I can’t imagine he won’t break the record.”
Do you regret the Swedish massage tweet?
“Here’s the deal, I haven’t been tweeting long. You can tweet facts and information which is boring to me or you can tweet questions, ideas, and opinions and I want to tweet questions, ideas and opinions. It’s up to whoever reads it to decide and I thought about that before I sent it out. No I don’t regret it. There wasn’t much of a backlash. I had 30 or 40, I had 500 responses. Around 450 responses, only about 30 were negative.”
Listen to Paul Azinger on ESPN Radio in Chicago here (Audio begins 1:32:00 into the podcast)