Ding dong, Tiger’s a mere human – just like Montgomerie!

Awkward moment as thorn-laden issue of 2005 Indonesian Open mishap raised


You suspected something was up when the top three stories, in reverse order, on a newsie website on Saturday morning were: 3 Margaret Thatcher, 2 North Korea, 1 Tiger Woods.

Uh oh. Indeed, come evening, the mood in the Sky Sports studio was so sombre it was a wonder our host and his guests weren’t wearing black ties as a mark of respect for the demise of golf. With Colin Montgomerie breathing heavily beside him, David Livingstone looked us straight in the eye, heightening the gravity of the moment. “You may take the view a giant shadow has been cast over this tournament – and, indeed, the game of golf,” he emoted. “If Woods goes on to win this, will it be a win with a metaphorical asterisk after his name?”

Monty exhaled emotionally, while Butch Harmon beamed in to the camera, as Butch tends to do. You can just tell the fella whistles “Always look on the bright side of life” in the shower. The near-consensus: Tiger was a lucky fecker not to be disqualified for unknowingly dropping a ball in a spot where, if he’d been a knowingly sort, he’d have known he shouldn’t have unknowingly dropped it.

Monty? As he began to opine, the caption “Played with Tiger Woods in 1997, 3rd round” appeared under his name. This is what Sky had reduced Monty’s career to. What next? “Queued behind Tiger in Walmart cheese section in 1998”?

Before Livingstone (“Once used Miami International Airport toilet, most likely visited by Tiger at some point in last 20 years”) asked Monty for his opinion, he delicately raised the thorn-laden issue of his 2005 Indonesian Open mishap. But he was, lest we forget, cleared of breaking the rules back then after unknowingly shifting his ball in to a more advantageous position.

“This is very much different,” he insisted, with a metaphorical asterisk beside his name, largely because he only found out he had “inadvertently placed the ball in the wrong place a week after the event”. And you know yourself, timing is everything.

Butch beamed at us again, and sure, all you could do was wink back. “The committee decided that ignorance of the rules is innocence,” said Monty, and for a minute you thought it was a charming, self-deprecating reference to his own rule-unknowingness. But no, t’was a Tiger reference – he was blessed, he reckoned, Butch couldn’t disagree, but “play on” they concurred.

BBC time. Peter Alliss. Who can always be relied upon for an impartial view on Tiger-related incidents. The old ones, what? “It's a great talking point, it’s rather like human rights and Health and Safety – bits are okay and some of the rest is rubbish,” he said. It’s wrong to ever make assumptions about folk, but you could probably take a wild but safe-ish guess Peter didn’t download “Ding Dong The Witch is Dead” last week.

Hazel Irvine might well have asked, “which parts of human rights are rubbish, exactly?”, but she opted to let it go.

Alliss has oft managed to make Thatcher seem more empathetic towards miners as he has been towards Tiger, although he did once acknowledge Tiger did well to be as balanced as he is in light of being reared by a fruit-case of a father. And, also too, he – Alliss, not Tiger – is big in to the conservation of the red squirrel and the water vole, so he has some redeeming features. But. “I don’t think he cares one toss about what people think,” he said (about Tiger), his eyes darkening, but that might have been due the sunglasses he was wearing in the sunshine-free BBC studio. “What goes on in his head nobody knows, except him,” he added.

Ding dong, Tiger’s a mere human – just like Monty!

Go on Peter, download it.