Was there too much of a lull in Tiger Woods news? Did Woods do something behind the scenes that we don’t know about yet? Is Dan Jenkins just a curmudgeon short on material as he reaches his mid-80’s? Did Golf Digest need help selling magazines?

Sorry for the questions, but what’s lost on me in this Jenkins-Woods spat is why did the writer, by all accounts one of the best in the sport’s history, feel the need to go after Tiger? Why now?

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Dan Jenkins’ Article in Golf Digest

It was a series of cheap shots under the guise of satire.

Jenkins roasted a man who didn’t ask to be roasted and did so with unsubstantiated rumors and trite stabs. We get it, Mr. Jenkins. Woods ran his SUV into a fire hydrant and his former wife beat the back of the vehicle with a golf club. He hasn’t won a major since, a fact that Jenkins has never been shy about sharing. That still doesn’t explain the timing of the article.

Woods, as you likely know by now, responded on Derek Jeter’s new site, “The Players’ Union.” In his response, titled “Not True, Not Funny,” Woods wrote, “Good-natured satire is one thing, but no fair-minded writer would put someone in the position of having to publicly deny that he mistreats his friends, takes pleasure in firing people, and stiffs on tips—and a lot of other slurs, too.”

Tiger’s Response to Jenkins

He has a point. When humor becomes a series of insults, the target will eventually get offended. Jenkins’ piece, as farfetched as it is, still makes readers thinks that at least part of it is true.

Woods had every right to respond, though there were better ways to do so. He could have called Jenkins and figured out what triggered the first article. He could have written the title and left it at that. He could have invented a conversation he had with Jenkins. Or, and this is filed under the never going to happen category, he could have laughed along in a reverse psychology kind of way. The angry rebuttal, however, seemed to fan the flames and give the whole ordeal legs, which, in some way, was Jenkins’ intent.

There’s one thing at the crux of the spat that people are misunderstanding. For the record, I’m on a team Woods here, if only because Jenkins further spread the gap between athlete and a writer.

And again, it was a cheap shot of the lowest order, like a bully taking the stage at a school assembly and prefacing his insults with “I’m making this all up so don’t take offense.” But the words that people used to defend Jenkins–satire and parody–didn’t fit the article. Woods even misunderstood the former.

Good-natured satire? That’s an oxymoron. By definition, satire criticizes through comedy. The tone clues the reader not a asterisk at the top of the story. There’s a subtlety to it. Jenkins was anything but subtle.

Parody? Maybe this is closer to the truth, but it still doesn’t explain Jenkins’ motive. I found it to be mean-spirited and unnecessary. I didn’t laugh and I doubt most readers did.

But hey, at least we have something to talk about.

Tiger and His Team’s Letter to Golf Digest