Tiger Woods’s apparent bid to prank playing partner Justin Thomas by handing him a tampon during the first round of the PGA Genesis Invitational has sparked some criticism of the 15-time major champion.
Woods slipped the hygiene product to Thomas as they walked off the ninth tee at Riviera Country Club, where Woods had out-driven Thomas.
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Thomas laughed and dropped the tampon on the ground.
Following his second round at the tournament Woods apologised over the incident following backlash from members of the media and also many viewers on social media.
“It was supposed to be all fun and games and obviously it hasn’t turned out that way,” Woods said.
“If I offended anybody, it was not the case, it was just friends having fun.
“If I offended anybody in any way, shape or form, I’m sorry. It was not intended to be that way.
“It was just we play pranks on one another all the time and virally I think this did not come across that way, but between us it was — it’s different.”
Woods was earlier hammered for the prank, which many labelled “bizarre” and “insensitive”.
“Really, Tiger,” wrote USA Today columnist Christine Brennan.
“Woods’ message to Thomas was obvious. It has been the go-to line of silly, often insecure boys for generations: You play like a girl.”
Sky Sports’ Sarah Stirk criticised Woods’ behaviour, describing it as “crass” and “disappointing”.
“I’m a female working in sport. I’m passionate and love the game of golf. I think we’re all striving for equality and we’ve all seen massive inroads which everybody is doing when it comes to promoting women’s sport, media exposure and increase in participation levels,” Stirk said.
“We want women’s sport to be on a playing field with men and I think this incident was extremely disappointing. I think it was crass to be honest.
“They’re two good friends. JT and Tiger Woods, good buddies, play a lot together. Tiger Woods outdrove Justin Thomas.
“It was seemingly done in jest. To me it was laddy, blokey behaviour, passing him the tampon effectively saying: ‘I’ve outdriven you’, ‘you’re driving the ball like a woman’, effectively the inference of the incident that happened and that to me says females, women are inferior to men.
“’I’ve outdriven you’, ‘you’ve driven the ball a shorter distance than I have and therefore women are inferior to men’.
“I think that’s not what we want to be showcasing in the world of sport. It was crass, it was disappointing and I think surprise from my side because he’s playing in the Genesis on the PGA Tour. It’s a tournament that he hosts.
“A tampon is an intimate women’s hygiene product so to see it in that scenario was just wrong, it was odd, it was bizarre and it was insensitive.”
Reaction on social media — where Woods’s return to tour-level golf for the first time since he missed the cut at the British Open in July sparked an outpouring of interest — was mixed.
“Call me woke. Call me a snowflake. Call me ‘offended’. Whatever. But handing another male golfer a tampon is objectively not funny,” one Twitter poster wrote.
Another, however, called negative reaction “manufactured anger,” and plenty found the exchange simply amusing.
Paige Spiranac, a former college golfer who is now a model and sports betting ambassador, did not want to see Woods become a victim of cancel culture over the prank.
“If anyone tries to cancel Tiger over this we riot. It’s funny,” she tweeted.
“It’s interesting to see women outraged by Tiger slipping JT a tampon after out driving him but those same women will quickly tear me down for how I’ve decided to build my business. You can’t pick and choose when to be a feminist.”
“Instead of women being outraged by Tiger and the tampon, I would love for them to actually provide ideas to help,” she tweeted.
“For example I would have (Tampax) team up with the PGA tour to run a campaign where they provide free feminine products at golf courses. Most don’t actually have them and during long rounds it can be a problem for us.”
Woods capped his first round at Riviera with three straight birdies for a two-under par 69 that left him five off the lead.
Woods he enjoyed playing in a group with good friend Thomas and Northern Ireland star Rory McIlroy.
“It was a great round,” Woods said. “The ebb and flow of needling each other, encouraging each other and telling stories.
“Because I hadn’t been out here so I’ve missed some of the things that have transpired on Tour, which is kind of fun.”
Woods’ schedule was curtailed the past two years as he continued to deal with the severe leg injuries he suffered in February 2021 car accident.
He didn’t play after the crash in 2021 after undergoing multiple surgeries and says he’ll be managing the damage to his lower right leg for the rest of his career.
Woods returned to play at the 2022 Masters, finishing 47th, but withdrew from the PGA Championship in May after 54 holes and missed the cut at the British Open.