Graeme McDowell took to Twitter on Thursday to clarify some quotes he had on Tiger Woods at Bay Hill last week.
He didn't reference exactly what was being taken out of context (and I'm not sure anything totally was) but I presume he's talking about the quotes in this PGATour.com article.
In it he talked about how Tiger is a different player these days.
"He's lost that sort of force field of invincibility around him. The aura is not as strong. He's still Tiger Woods, still the greatest player ever in my opinion.
"I don't remember the first time I played with him but there was a real ‘wow' factor. He was playing a different sport than me. But guys get older, stuff happens."
That doesn't sound like a man disenchanted with one of the two best golfers ever and yet the blowback he's received from fans is incredible. Check out the comments on that PGA Tour post. A gym's worth of folks flexing their Facebook and Twitter muscles.
McDowell went on to talk about how many of the young golfers these days aren't intimidated by Woods. See: Reed, Patrick (Woods' "twin star").
"(Younger players) are not out there believing he is unbeatable because the positive press that happened for 10 years has been replaced with some negativity. And there are so many great young players now, it's not just one-offs (of a player here or there). There are 10s and 20s of these guys. There's a belief level now that you can be 19, 20, 21 and capable of doing it at the biggest level."
Here was his response to the criticism from fans and others on Thursday:
I spent 90% of my press conference last week at Bay Hill being asked questions about Tiger, speculating about where his game is right now...— Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell) March 27, 2014
...Many of my quotes have been taken out of context and spun quite negatively. It's hard for me to comment on Tiger in the early 2000s....— Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell) March 27, 2014
...I can only say that he has raised the bar so much in the sport globally and players are so much better equipped to win these days...— Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell) March 27, 2014
...He seems more beatable nowadays simply because the players around him are better and have more belief thanks to Tiger moving the needle.— Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell) March 27, 2014
...I really shouldn't get caught up in speculation and opinion especially when talking about TW. You set yourself up for failure. #nocomment— Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell) March 27, 2014
I wasn't at the original media scrum in Florida so I don't know the context but I do know that McDowell has repeatedly cited Woods as the greatest ever.
Here's what McDowell said in his big presser to open the tournament last week:
"He never ceases to amaze us. We're very fortunate to be playing golf in the Tiger Woods era. He's an amazing player, and you'd never put anything past him. He could prove us all wrong and show up at Augusta, win by ten, and you guys will be back to the keyboards and waxing lyrical and away we go again. Who knows?"
That doesn't sound like someone who disrespects the world No. 1.
It will be a shame if guys like McDowell and Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott stop talking to media types because of the apparant backlash on quotes about Woods.
But nobody would blame them.