After splurging millions of dollars in an audacious bid to put Turkey on the golfing map, the sponsors of this week’s World Golf Final in Belek, Antalya, could be forgiven for questioning their promotional strategy.
They may have succeeded in attracting a tired and ragged-looking handful of the game’s most talented exponents to an otherwise anonymous golf club, but the success or failure of a given tournament hinges on more than the presence of a few disinterested PGA Tour millionaires.
It helps, for example, if the chosen format is conducive to competitive excitement (which this one decidedly is not); it helps if torrential rains don’t devastate the venue (as happened this morning); but perhaps most of all, it helps if a tournament official doesn’t assault a photographer in full view of the press corps.
On Tuesday morning, as representatives of the media crowded Antalya Golf Club’s first tee in anticipation of Tiger Woods’ arrival, Ahmet Agaoglu, president of the Turkish Golf Federation, took exception to the behaviour of several photographers.
A verbal disagreement resulted, during which either a shove or “headbutt,” depending on whose account you believe, injured local journalist Cihat Unal.
Agaoglu, accompanied by veteran spinmeisters Chubby Chandler and Keith Waters, returned to the press centre this morning to partially plead his innocence and douse the flames of controversy.
The Guardian’s Ewan Murray was there to collect valuable quotage:
“I was there explaining this is not like other sports – while Messi is going to take a penalty you cannot go into the six-yard area to take a picture – and while saying this there was a reaction saying: ‘You cannot push us back, you cannot shout at us.’
“I was being pushed by one of them and so pushed them back as well – and the poor guy [Cihat Unal] was in the wrong place in the wrong time.
“While organising such tournaments I shouldn’t have to be there, but I am trying to make everything so perfect. It was unlucky it happened and I will given a written apology because one way or another it was not nice. He stumbled back and I was almost going to fall over him.”
Not quite the Costanza defence, but close.