Tiger Woods has apologised after he caused a storm online for discreetly handing Justin Thomas a tampon after outdriving his playing partner at the Genesis Invitational.
As the Americans walked off the ninth tee, Woods slipped the tampon into Thomas’ hand, with the 29-year-old laughing, then dropping it as both men walked off giggling.
The 47-year-old is playing in his first competitive PGA Tour event since missing the cut at The Open in July.
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The incident drew a mixed response on social media with some criticising the 15-time major champion, stating it was disrespectful toward women.
Woods apologised after the round of play, saying it was supposed to be a joke.
“It was supposed to be all fun and games, and obviously it hasn’t turned out that way,” he told reporters. “If I offended anybody, it was not the case; it was just friends having fun.
“As I said, 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.”
Writing in USA Today, columnist Christine Brennan, said: “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.
“What a bizarre thing for a “girl dad” to do. His daughter Sam, now 15, grew up playing soccer and had just played in a tournament in Florida when she arrived to watch him win the Masters in 2019.
“… He employed basic misogyny to insult his good friend Thomas, a knee-slapper of a dig against female athletes: You hit the ball like a girl!”
Sky Sports presenter Sarah Stirk said it was “crass” and “extremely disappointing”.
Speaking on Sky Sports News, Stirk added: “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’.
“[That is] effectively the inference of the incident that happened and that to me says females, women, are inferior to men.
“Women should not be portrayed as being inferior to men in any walk of life and certainly on a sporting landscape.”
US lawyer Dr Ann Olivarius tweeted: “See, it’s funny because feminine hygiene products are INHERENTLY emasculating, so when a man makes another man touch a tampon, he’s saying ‘I am a bigger and better man than you, because, GROSS, I made you touch a wrapped Tampax!’.”
Golf podcast host Brian Kirschner said: “Truly cannot get over the idea of Tiger Woods preparing for his first non-major start since 2020 at a tournament he’s hosting and being like “oops almost forgot to pack a tampon to hand to JT when I hit it past him”.
And Julie DiCaro, a lawyer and author, tweeted: “Ugh. All the guys think this is hilarious, but the joke is denigrating women. So played out and stupid.”
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