Brandel Chamblee has no other choice. At some point, he had to respond to the criticism heaped upon him for insinuating in a golf.com piece that Tiger Woods is a cheater.
And the only response he could make was the one he gave: I'm not backing down.
That's what Chamblee said to the Associated Press on Tuesday, defending an accusation that Tiger Woods was "cavalier" with the Rules of Golf.
"I think 'cavalier with the rules' allows for those with a dubious opinion of the BMW [Championship] video (which was used by PGA Tour officials to assess Tiger Woods a two-stroke penalty when his ball moved while clearing brush around it in September)," Chamblee said Tuesday in an email to the AP.
An intelligent man like Chamblee was well-aware of his golf.com prose. He knew he would not call Woods a cheater directly, but rather insinuate it through the use of another "c" word and by relaying an anecdote from his fourth-grade experience, where his teacher somehow figured out Chamblee had cheated on a test, crossing out his perfect score and replacing it with an "F" -- the same grade Chamblee gave Woods for his 2013 season, somewhat marred by four high-profile rules situations, three of which landed him two-stroke penalties.
"My teacher in the fourth grade did not have a dubious opinion of how I completed the test," Chamblee said. "But she was writing to one, and as I was writing to many, I felt it important to allow for the doubt some might have, so I chose my words accordingly. What people want to infer about that is up to them. I have my opinion, they can form theirs."
Of course, there was no other inference to be made by what Chamblee said, though he tried to coyly avoid the clear implication in his defense.
"I don't feel I'm the one that needs to justify the 'F,'" Chamblee said. "The BMW video does it for me, followed by Tiger's silence -- until confronted -- and then by his denials in the face of incontestable evidence to the contrary of his petitions. To say nothing of the fact that he was disrespecting his position in golf, the traditions of golf and his fellow competitors, in my opinion."
The formative moment of the Chamblee P.O.V. clearly was at the BMW Championship. In fairness, however, the incident at Conway Farms -- initiated by high-definition video shot of Woods because, frankly, all of his moves are documented by someone -- is unique in Tiger Woods' 309-event PGA Tour career. Again, to suggest one incident a cheater does make is a hell of a leap. And, like in "Thelma & Louise," the car is in suspended animation over the cliff. There's no place else for Chamblee to go with what he said. There's no taking back the "c" word.
Chamblee had to stand by his remarks. Backing down right away would have hurt his standing as the guy who "tells it like it is." Being that guy means hardly ever having to say you're sorry, or that you were wrong, to anyone, much less Tiger Woods. And if Chamblee did back down immediately, then he would be further criticized, maybe ridiculed, for caving to Woods, his standing in the game and idle threats of legal action from Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg. In fact, Chamblee even took a shot at Steinberg in his comments to the AP.
And for Woods, there's no other recourse than speaking through his agent.
Why should Tiger Woods, 14-time major winner and on the Mt. Rushmore of golf, acknowledge comments from a TV analyst, a man who has 78 less PGA Tour wins than him? (Chamblee won on the PGA Tour, which is a lot more than any of us can say, but that's how Woods has to see him.)
There's nothing to be gained by boycotting Golf Channel or ignoring them. For one, Chamblee wrote the piece for golf.com, not GolfChannel.com, so to punish a television network for a digital piece elsewhere doesn't make sense. Clearly not every Golf Channel employee or contributor agrees with Chamblee. In avoiding Golf Channel, Woods would simply look like a whiner who can't take criticism, even after Woods took every shot a man could possibly take as his personal coitus foibles unfolded in partial-plain view.
On Tuesday night, Chamblee had a change of heart, taking to Twitter to issue an apology to Woods in a series of four tweets.[line-quote color="red"]What brought me here was the realization that my comments inflamed an audience on two sides of an issue. Golf is a gentleman's game and I'm not proud of this debate. I want to apologize to Tiger for this incited discourse. And no - I was not asked to apologize. My intention was to note Tiger's rules infractions this year, but comparing that to cheating in grade school went too far.[/line-quote]
An apology was the only thing that could formally end the verbal spat Chamblee started. Chamblee didn't have a cavalcade of support from the golf community, either with Woods' peers -- who voted him PGA Tour Player of the Year in 2013, despite the rules mishaps -- or the golf media. This situation was either going to end awkwardly with some kind of ellipsis as its punctuation or with a mea culpa for a period.
Brandel Chamblee won't be sued. Golf Channel won't be shunned by Tiger Woods. Life will go on and, depending on your persuasion on this topic, the spat will probably be forgotten by Thanksgiving -- except by Woods, who frankly has worse memories of that holiday.