Tiger beat Padraig Harrington by three strokes, but did the clock beat Padraig? On the 16th hole, the rules official told Tiger and Padraig to speed up because they were 17 minutes behind.
Players are given 40 seconds to hit their shots after they reach their balls. Tiger believes Padraig had to rush his shots on that hole which was the demise of Padraig. First Padraig hit his tee shot into the trees, then a shot into the slope of a bunker, and then he had a delicate shot to a green running away from him, which rolled into the water. Padraig had an eight on that par-5, which Tiger birdied and took the lead by three shots.
When they shook hands, Tiger seemed to be apologizing to Padraig that the official "got in the way of a great battle." Interestingly Padraig doesn't blame the official for putting them on the clock, "If you’re put on the clock, you always want to be nicely in position so you’re not having to think too much. I got out of position with my tee shot, my second shot and my third short. I got out of position and just got myself out of the zone.”
Padraig showed he takes responsibility for his bad shots on 16, which I admire. He could have gone along with Tiger blaming the rules official for his loss. Would Tiger have blamed the official if things were reversed? I'm not sure. Or, did Tiger not like winning against Padraig because Padraig was rushed and hit into the water? Part of me thinks Tiger is a purist and when he wins he wants to know that he beat his opponent and not because some outside influence affected the outcome.
Can't wait to watch this week's final Major, the PGA Championship!
UPDATE: The PGA Tour has fined Tiger for criticizing the official. Not sure if I like this call. Frankly, I would have fined him for his language and behavior on the course instead, which by the way, seems much better in the last two tournaments. I'm sure if his cap could talk, it would say plenty.
UPDATE II: Ty Votaw of the PGA has confirmed that Tiger did not get fined for his critical comments of the official.