Tiger Woods responds to Patrick Reed cheating scandal
Tiger Woods did his best to play a straight bat to questions about “cheating” as reporters pressed him ahead of the Presidents Cup in Melbourne.
United States playing captain Tiger Woods has urged Presidents Cup golf fans to move on from the Patrick Reed cheating scandal that threatens to cast a shadow over the prestigious tournament in Melbourne this week.
Reed was caught violating the rules during the third round of the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas on Saturday.
The former Masters winner copped a two-stroke penalty for making improper swings in a waste bunker at the Woods-hosted event.
Australian golfers Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman both expected local fans to stick it to Reed at the Presidents Cup, being played at Royal Melbourne. But Woods was hopeful they would take a more mature approach.
“The fans down here are awesome. They’re into their sport,” Woods said. “Yes, I have talked to Pat about it. It’s behind us.
“We’re all into this week, we’re focused about trying to go against this great International team here. We’re in Australia, they’ve got a couple of Aussies on the team.
“But again, this is one of the greatest sporting countries in the world. They love their sport and I think that this will be a fantastic event.”
Woods did not expect the furore to affect his star-studded United States team.
“As we all know, Pat was penalised. That was it, end of story,” Woods said. “Unfortunately he missed the playoff by those two shots.”
At the Presidents Cup launch in Melbourne on Monday, Australian veteran Adam Scott wouldn’t be drawn on his thoughts on the cheating scandal.
CHECK OUT REED’S CONTROVERSIAL SWINGS IN THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE
“I guess it’s all kind of played itself out now,” Scott said. “They’ve dealt with it, the officials have dealt with it and we’re moving on.”
Scott is passing captain Ernie Els and Fijian legend Vijay Singh as he makes a record ninth Presidents Cup appearance for the International team. The 39-year-old has deliberately avoided trying to lay on too much advice for his younger teammates this week.
“I like the way this team’s shaped up,” Scott said.
“I think Ernie’s done an incredible job of guiding us into this position this week.
“Certainly with seven new guys on our team, I think that’s a real positive for us, a bit of fresh blood.
“They’re really ready to go, so I’m kind of really feeding off that young energy that’s running here this week.
“At the moment, I really don’t want to put too much in their heads.
“They’re young players, they’re here, they’ve qualified, they’re pretty good.
“I want to get the most out of them and I don’t want to influence them in any way unless they’ve really got a query.
“We’re just getting a feel for things at the moment, but hopefully I can be useful when needed.”
Let’s be Frank: The inside story behind Tiger Woods’ famous headcover
In the early 2000s, Woods regularly accomplished the impossible. He won the ‘Tiger Slam,’ triumphing in four straight majors, as well as seven out of 11. He won six times in six starts on the PGA Tour, was named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated (twice) and became the most popular athlete in the world.
Back at Nike Headquarters, the upstart golf division was trying to move product and compete with industry titans like Callaway, Titleist and TaylorMade. Nike execs aimed to leverage Woods, a golfing robot, as a more aspirational, viable leader for the golfing masses. Nike wanted to humanize his heroics.
As it had successfully done with Mars Blackmon alongside Michael Jordan, and Lil’ Penny with Penny Hardaway, Nike summoned the genius of creative marketing brand Weiden and Kennedy, a small Portland agency, to create a foil for Woods. Someone or something that could remove Woods’ layer of invisibility.
Creative director Jim Riswold saw Woods’ funky headcover and conceived “Frank,” a spitfire character — his body licensed from Daphne’s, of course — who knew Woods better than anyone. Here’s how his pitch read. (He still holds onto it to this day.)
Meet Frank. Frank is one of Tiger’s inner-circle. He is Tiger’s bon ami. He’s also Tiger’s confidant. In other words, when Frank speaks, Tiger listens, but not as much as Frank thinks he should. Frank is also the headcover for Tiger’s driver. Frank and Tiger have been together since childhood. Frank was at Tiger’s appearance on the Mike Douglas Show. Frank was with Tiger at his three USGA Junior championships. Frank was with Tiger at his three U.S. Amateurs. Frank was with Tiger at Stanford, graduating with a degree in accounting.
They go everywhere and do everything together. Golf tournaments, obviously, the practice range, the gym, the stores, the movies, the fishing hole, the coffee shop, the dating scene, you name it. Frank and Tiger do it together. Frank is not some airy, fairy Baggar Vance, speaking oblique and obtuse terms. Frank is, well, frank, and outspoken. You know where you stand with Frank — just ask Tiger. Frank, as we shall see, also has a lot more interests in life than golf. He’s a devout bon vivant, a proponent of the good life, who has particular fondness for singing. Oh, one other thing: Never call Frank a sock. Never.
“Oh, and also,” Riswold added. “He’s the only guy who gets to call Tiger [by his real name,] “Eldrick.”
Initially, the pitch was met with reserve. What Riswold proposed was a brand campaign — a series of ads that would promote Nike as a bold, lively golf entity. “Nike being Nike,” as marketing director Chris Mike put it. But that’s not what Nike Golf needed. As it ranked below its competitors in the equipment space, Nike Golf wanted a product campaign that would prioritize sales and add to its bottom line. While there was some compromise needed by both sides, there was plenty of trust in the relationship. Weiden and Kennedy (with Riswold as the lead) had delivered in a big way with the “Hello World” and “I am Tiger Woods” campaigns in earlier years.
“Riswold is a genius,” Woods’ longtime agent Mark Steinberg said. “When he comes up with an idea, you really gotta stand up and pay attention.”
Riswold wrote dozens of scripts for Frank, and with a robust budget for talent, the brand hired legendary commercials director Joe Pytka (known for Budweiser’s Clydesdale spots and the Michael Jordan/Larry Bird McDonald’s commercial, to name a few). Pytka is a tall, imposing perfectionist, and infamous for his intense directing style. It was not abnormal for arguments to break out on set, often leading to spur-of-the-moment rewrites for Riswold’s team.
As for the witty, biting voice of Frank, three men were tabbed as finalists: comedic producer and actor Larry David, Hollywood mainstay Michael Keaton, and up-and-comer Paul Giamatti. According to Riswold, David was the popular choice, but in exchange for the work, all he wanted was to play a round with Woods. He was denied and Giamatti got the job.
The physical Frank doll was an animatronic puppet, brought to life by five puppeteers who stood directly behind the camera, each flexing bike cables to move specific portions of Frank’s body. One cable for each ear. One cable for the lower part of its mouth. One for the upper lip, which frayed whenever Frank spoke. Overseeing it all was puppet-mastermind Jaime Hyneman, who eventually went on to host the popular Discovery TV show, Mythbusters. (Hyneman still holds onto the robot as a keepsake.)
“Do we really want him to spend 30 or 40 thousand dollars on a robot for this? Is it really that important,” Mike asked himself at the time. “I’m glad we did. It was an amazing piece of technology at the time. Could have bought a car with it.”
The commercials revolved around Frank’s demanding, know-it-all attitude and Woods’ indifference to him. Frank knew where Woods could improve, and he wasn’t afraid to say it.
There’s Frank, in the barbershop getting his fur trimmed next to Woods, ranting about the tungsten plug in Nike’s new fairway woods. Then there’s Frank at the bar, counseling Tiger about how he’s been “dinkin’ it” around the course lately, encouraging him to use Nike’s Tour Accuracy 2 ball. “We made fun of Tiger,” Riswold said. “Nobody was making fun of Tiger then.”