By Bob Harig | ESPN.com
Tiger Woods lashed out at legendary golf writer Dan Jenkins on Tuesday, calling a parody interview Jenkins wrote in Golf Digest magazine "a grudge-fueled piece of character assassination."
The story in the December issue of Golf Digest is headlined "My Interview With Tiger*" with a subhead saying "*Or how it plays out in my mind." In it, Jenkins writes a series of make-believe questions and answers that range from why Woods hasn't fired his longtime agent Mark Steinberg ("I'll probably get around to it. I like to fire people" is the answer) to his relationship with Sergio Garcia ("Sergio wins Low Crybaby at every tournament.") to being a bad tipper ("I don't understand why you're supposed to tip people for doing a job they're already getting paid to do.").
In a first-person story for The Players' Tribune, a website started by former Yankees star Derek Jeter the week after he retired, Woods decries the made-up interview conducted by Jenkins and asks in a separate letter to Golf Digest for a formal response and a written apology.
Jenkins "has no idea how I think or feel about any of the things he claims to know about, which is why he had to make things up," Woods wrote. He also wrote: "All athletes know that we will be under scrutiny from the media. But this concocted article was below the belt."
Jenkins has been a longtime critic of Woods, going back to when the 14-time major winner first turned pro in 1996. Among his stated issues with the golfer is that Woods never would consent to a sit-down, one-on-one interview. In the introduction to his story, Jenkins writes that when Woods returned to golf from back surgery, "this energized me so much I immediately tracked down Tiger and asked if we could do the interview we should have done years ago." He then says Woods agreed and "suggested we grab a couple of orange Slurpees at the 7-Eleven and meet at a GameStop, where we could play Tomb Raider during breaks."
In his The Players' Tribune story, Woods said: "Whether it's misreported information or opinions I think are way off base, I let plenty of things slide. But this time I can't do that. The sheer nastiness of this attack, the photos and how it put false words in my mouth just had to be confronted."
Now 84, Jenkins has covered more than 60 straight Masters. He missed his first major championship in more than 40 years this summer when he was unable to attend the Open Championship in England. He has covered more than 200 of the game's biggest tournaments, dating to his days at Sports Illustrated and, prior to that, the Forth Worth Press. In 2011, he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Glenn Greenspan, Woods' publicist, said in reply to Jenkins' tweet: "The excuse from Jenkins and Digest that this is satire is even more deceitful. Journalists can't just add an asterisk or a question mark to any slander that they dream up and call it appropriate."
Woods was a former playing editor for Golf Digest, which meant he provided instruction pieces to the magazine as well as annual interview time. The relationship ended in 2011.
As part of the story, Woods linked a letter that Steinberg wrote to Golf Digest publisher Mark Townsend, which says in part: "It is not enough to claim that Mr. Jenkins is an 'opinion writer' or that this is mere 'parody' when under that guise, Mr. Jenkins makes a litany of disparagements that are either baseless or demonstrably untrue."
Woods, who turns 39 next month, played just eight times around the world this year, his season halted by March 31 back surgery and another back injury in August. He has not played since missing the cut at the PGA Championship but is scheduled to return in two weeks at the Hero World Challenge in Orlando, Florida.