2008's wacky world of golf

IAN HUTCHINSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:05 AM ET

Usually, when we look back at the year that was in professional golf, the names at the top of leaderboards are the ones that stand out, but 2008 hardly was a normal year.

It was one in which Tiger Woods was missing for half the season and Annika Sorenstam was saying goodbye.

It was a year in which names not associated with playing the game earned headlines and, like others who are inside the ropes, got the ink for drawing attention away from the game with their comments and actions.

They truly deserve to have the "What Were You Thinking?" question:

STEVE WILLIAMS

Just when you think it's safe to unplug your ears, Tiger Woods' caddie proves that the Sean Avery School of Charm is a thriving business.

Tiger called Williams' recent comments about Phil Mickelson's physical features "inappropriate."

Ouch!

Bet Williams feels bad after that verbal spanking, but don't worry, he'll feel better with all the giggles that are going on behind the scenes considering the disdain that exists for Mickelson, not only on Tiger's and Williams' part, but also among other tour players.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON

You know you've reached the upper echelon when people start making much ado about nothing, which is exactly what Harrington's comments about Sergio Garcia are, despite the headlines that this supposed dust-up has caused.

All Harrington said he and Garcia are two different people. Unlike Williams' comments about Mickelson, Harrington didn't insult Garcia, so what's the problem? It's news only because they are the top two European players.

JOHN DALY

From shenanigans in a hospitality tent at the Pods Championship to having an NFL coach tote his bag, to being dumped by Butch Harmon, to missing a pro-am at the Arnold Palmer Invitational to smashing a fan's camera in Australia, the transformation is complete.

The two-time major champion is really a cartoon character, only the story line isn't funny any more.

KELLY TILGHMAN

It's difficult to believe that the Golf Channel anchor, if she truly is a racist, is dumb enough to let her opinions be known on a broadcast on which she joked that young players might lynch Tiger Woods in a back alley.

This was a case of a talking head trying to fill air time with mindless drivel, while misunderstanding the impact and meaning of the term lynch. It was enough to bring out the politically correct who wanted to dish out their own forms of frontier justice on Tilghman.

She paid the price with a two-week suspension and memories of the incident will follow her for the rest of her career, despite Woods saying he didn't think there was any ill intent. I've seen Woods and Tilghman work together at Nike promotions and agree with him.

DAVE SEANOR

Golfweek magazine got too graphic in its coverage of the Tilghman story when it ran a noose on its cover.

While that cover suggested that the Golf Channel couldn't wiggle free from Tilghman's remarks, it actually took the glare off the Golf Channel and on to Golfweek, which apologized and got rid of Seanor, its longtime editor.

At the worst, Tilghman's comments were thoughtless, but Golfweek's cover went way too far.

CAROLYN BIVENS

The LPGA Tour commissioner bolstered her heavy-handed reputation with a tour edict that would suspend players not fluent in English, a move that was seen as being targeted at Asian players.

The intent of the edict was understandable, but there was no excuse for the way it went down and the tour has since backed off and wisely so. There is no room for such a public relations disaster with the economy threatening sponsorships and purses, especially on the LPGA Tour.

MICHELLE WIE

Just when it looked like Kid Wonder would make enough to earn her LPGA Tour card, she was disqualified for failing to sign a scorecard at the State Farm Classic.

It was another sign that Wie has not been properly prepared for professional golf.

She corrected that problem with a solid play at LPGA qualifying school a couple of weeks ago, but the amazing career that we all expected still hasn't materialize with her about to turn 20 in 2009. That will all be forgotten if the Michelle Wie we originally envisioned shows up on the LPGA Tour, where she is needed so badly.


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