Woods and Love criticise unruly fans

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The Independent Online

Tiger Woods yesterday reminded spectators that heckling has no place in the sport.

After his Accenture World Matchplay win on Sunday was marred by a fan barracking his final opponent, Davis Love III, Woods has moved on to the United Arab Emirates for the Dubai Desert Classic starting today. Asked if he feared more rowdy scenes at the Ryder Cup in Detroit in September, the world No 1 said: "It's not just the Ryder Cup, it's every venue.

"Things like that happen in our sport and there's no need," he went on. "It's great when you have tournaments like Augusta [the Masters] that police themselves, where people watching take care of fans not behaving properly.

"But it's happening more and more. We're bringing new fans in - usually soccer, American football or basketball fans. They are used to a raucous atmosphere, but golf is not like that."

Woods added that the distraction of cameras and mobile phones going off also needs to be addressed.

"I don't have control of people outside the ropes," he said. "Marshals are doing a great job, but you don't want to have an incident that costs somebody a tournament."

Woods recalled the 2002 Sony Open in Hawaii, when John Cook bogeyed the 17th after a phone went off and he lost by one shot. He himself bogeyed the final hole of the American Express World Championship at Mount Juliet in Ireland two years ago after a camera clicked as he was playing his approach. Woods still won, but was trying to complete the 72 holes without a bogey.

The sale of alcohol is another controversial issue, and Love intervened in San Diego on Sunday, demanding the heckler be removed before he played on.

"Five times this week people said 'Do you want a beer?' when I was walking through the ropes," Love said. "People assume we're out here screwing around, but we're not. We're playing hard. I don't come into your office and screw you up. Don't come into mine and screw me up."

Woods is joined by the world No 3, Ernie Els, but the South African said: "It's definitely not the Tiger Woods-Ernie Els show. Anybody on form can come through and win."

Els elected not to play at La Costa last week but his last outing was the Heineken Classic in Melbourne, where he won after a European Tour record-equalling 60 in the first round, and with Woods recording his 53rd victory on Sunday the stage is set for a duel in the sun.

Darren Clarke, who was third at the weekend, hopes to be involved too, while Padraig Harrington is seeking his first Desert Classic crown.

Thomas Bjorn already has his name on the trophy. He played with Woods in 2001 and won when Woods finished with a double-bogey seven.

An event which will feature one of the strongest fields on the regular European Tour will also include the 1996 winner, Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood, Nick Faldo, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey, paired with Woods for the first time in his career.