Tiger holding fast over slow-play call

Fall-out over Tour's decision to put world No 1 and Harrington on clock at Akron overshadows the build-up to USPGA
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"No fine, no regrets," was the thrust of Tiger Woods's response here yesterday when asked about his criticisms of John Paramor's by now infamous slow-play call in Akron on Sunday. Indeed, in re-emphasising his disgust at the referee "influencing" the result of the WGC Bridgestone-Invitational, Woods broadened out his attack to include the demands of television.

Not that the world No 1 was prepared to absolve Paramor of any of the blame. The European Tour's top rules man put Woods and Padraig Harrington on the clock at the pivotal moment of their long-awaited head-to-head at Firestone and so caused – at least in Woods' mind – the hurried Irishman to take a tournament-wrecking eight. Does Woods now regret personalising the attack on a much-respected official? "No, because he's the one who did it," said Woods, who went on to reiterate his assertion that Paramor was wrong to tell them on the 16th tee they were being timed.

"I thought they would have used better judgement considering we were the ones that were probably going to win the tournament. We had separated ourselves... It certainly influenced the outcome of the tournament and that's not how you want it to end."

Woods' fury with Paramor remains evident. He was seen shouting at the Englishman on the 17th and this conduct, put together with his comments to the media afterwards, had reportedly led to him being fined by the PGA Tour. But Woods revealed yesterday there had been no such sanction. "I've heard from the Tour and there is no fine," he said. Whether he will be fined now remains to be seen, although his suggestion that the wishes of television were central to the affair will surely effect a few red faces.

"We had to finish by 6 o'clock – I guess that was important," he said, referring to the CBS coverage which was due to finish at that time. "You know, we finished three minutes late. So unfortunately we didn't get in in time and unfortunately that influenced the outcome of the event."

There are a few important factors to consider in this controversy. The first is the curse of slow-play which the golfing authorities are understandably determined to eradicate. Last night, Paramor expressed his surprise at Woods' continued broadside. "I don't understand why he is saying it," said Paramor, who claims he and Woods have no personal "history". "We have a policy and we carry it out. I'm not sure he understands the policy."

Should this policy make greater allowances for the final groups in such high-profile events? Woods is not alone in feeling it should. "I mean, you've got the last group put on the clock," said young Rory McIlroy. "They were not holding anyone up. I didn't see the reason to put them on the clock."

One reason, as Paramor admitted, was indeed the needs of TV. Here lies another interesting factor in all of this. At the recent Women's British Open a few of the competitors were appalled to discover that marshals had been instructed to allow the crowds to cross the fairways to slow the pace of the play down. Apparently, the leaders were going too quickly and the coverage was set to be left with a big hole to fill. This case is obviously the opposite but the principle is surely the same.

Paramor does not see it that way. "TV does have an influence in that we're trying to coincide the tournament finishing with the end of the programme," he said. "Obviously we liaise with them when they working out their schedules. We know that the last group will take longer than the first and we allow for that so that they finish at a sensible time. That was not going to happen on Sunday."

For his part Harrington remained tight-lipped and gracious, essentially blaming himself for visiting the water on the 16th, although he did drop a heavy hint that he, too, was not entirely satisfied.

"Having won the tournament, Tiger can take the moral high ground and say what he wants," said the three-times major winner. "Having lost the tournament, I'm going to sit back and take it on the chin and say it was my mistake. I suppose it's best left to him. Tiger's in a better position to say it."

He may be, but will the Tour have the nerve to fine Tiger for flagrantly breaking their "conduct" rules? One thing does seem certain. Paramor will not be anywhere near Woods and Harrington on his buggy when the pair again play together on this 7,674-yard beast in the first two rounds, starting tomorrow. As the former tries to avoid his first blank major year since 2004 and as the latter tries to continue the dramatic resurgence he showed in Ohio, they will inevitably attract the bulk of the focus. The lenses will be pointed in their direction, even if the stopwatches aren't.

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