MICHAEL DARDEN / WEST HAWAII TODAY
Jim Thorpe said yesterday he knows Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman's "lynch" comment was not racially motivated.
Thorpe: Golfweek cover threw ‘fuel on the fire’
KAUPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii » Jim Thorpe thought this week's Golfweek with a swinging hangman's noose on the cover kept alive an issue that would have faded away otherwise.
On Jan. 4, Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman jokingly said during the Mercedes-Benz Championship telecast that players today should lynch Tiger Woods in a back alley in order to level the playing field. It took nearly a week before anyone noticed, but when they did, the Golf Channel's reaction was to suspend Tilghman for two weeks due to her poor choice of words.
Golfweek did a four-page spread on the matter in its current issue and chose a hangman's noose to illustrate the remark on its cover. The headline reads "Caught in a Noose? Tilghman slips up, and GolfChannel can't wriggle free." The Jan. 19 issue cost vice president and editor Dave Seanor his job. The cover of its magazine was pulled from its Web site.
Thorpe, who opened with a 63 during yesterday's opening round of the MasterCard Championship originally said he wouldn't comment on it, but changed his mind after his round. He spoke with a small gathering of newspaper reporters from the Associated Press, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the Honolulu Advertiser and West Hawaii Today, and Champions Tour media official Phil Stambaugh.
"It's a shame that we live in a world today where stuff like that still occurs," said Thorpe, who is African-American. "From knowing Kelly Tilghman, a lot of us know that it wasn't a malicious statement. She could have said somebody take Tiger into the locker room and bust his kneecap. That's what it meant. We knew it wasn't a racist comment. It's a shame so many look at it differently, but it was just a bad choice of words."
But while Thorpe took it easy on Tilghman, he wasn't as forgiving with Golfweek.
"Now, with the gentleman at Golfweek, that was absolutely stupid," Thorpe said. "That was just throwing fuel on the fire. Why would you do that? Why would you do that? I mean, he knew better. Let's just say he knew better."
Thorpe also said that Tilghman shouldn't lose her job for her remark because it wasn't racially motivated, but he wasn't as understanding for Seanor. He simply said, "Let him be barbecued."
Take it with a grain of sand
After D.A. Weibring
spent about a half-hour in the scorer's tent discussing a possible rules infraction, he was glad to know that no penalty would be assessed.
Seems while he was standing in a fairway bunker at No. 15 he noticed a rock was in the bunker, and while it was not near his golf ball, he absent-mindedly made a swipe at it with his golf shoe.
Had he touched it, the violation would have fallen under the heading of testing the sand, something he wasn't doing, but nonetheless, it could have been construed as such.
"It was kind of a dumb thing to do," Weibring said. "The ball was in the fairway bunker and as I walked into the bunker, there was a pretty-good-sized rock there, kind of between the edge of the bunker and my ball.
"As I walked by it, I made kind of a toe motion and as I walked by it, I kind of caught myself and said, 'What are you doing?' I don't think I brushed the sand, but I could have touched the rock."
As it turns out, they were playing stone rules, which would have allowed him to remove the rock from the bunker with no penalty assessed. But because he made a brushing motion with his foot, he just wanted to make sure he hadn't done anything wrong. It was ruled he didn't.
Inside the numbers
With the conditions ideal and the greens pristine, the 41 golfers in this week's winners-only field shot the best opening round in the history of the MasterCard, breaking the mark set in 2006. The scoring average after 18 holes was 67.537.
There were 31 rounds in the 60s, 35 below par and 39 par and below. The easiest hole was the par-5 fourth with a scoring average of 4.317. There was one eagle by Keith Fergus, and another 27 birdies, 12 pars and one bogey by Scott Hoch. The hardest hole was the par-3 eighth. There were five birdies, 29 pars, six bogeys and one double bogey by Lee Trevino.