To add insult to injury after moving the wrong way in the third round of the U.S. Open, Tiger Woods stomped off the 18th green, looking like he had just shot five-over 75. As you can see, it’s always quite chaotic with everyone trying to get out of the way or in the way.
What a strange, strange day.
I was standing next to the stairs. If you’re looking at the video, I’m the one closest to the bottom of the steps on the right (wearing all-black and my hair is black, so it’s hard to make me out). It was a pretty dramatic moment and I swear you could almost hear the impact of Tiger’s hand hitting the lens (*update: or his
elbow arm smacking the guy’s head). Maybe not. It was probably more of the tension in the air. I think Tiger’s melodramatic reaction was partly to the pain and partly to feeling pissed off about his ugly round.
It was one of those perfect storm situations.
cameraman was packing up his equipment rushed in to try and snap a close-up shot of Tiger’s face, using what appeared to be a wide-angled lens — and not paying attention, while the rest of us were standing back to let Tiger pass. Right as he marched by, his right hand smacked hard into the camera.
Tiger grimaced in pain and shook his hand and then quickly grabbed his right with his left. He muttered, “Son of a…,” just as he passed me. The guy to my right and I exchanged “wide-eyed-sh*t-that-was-not-good-and-kind-of-scary” looks.
[*Update: On the shuttle bus back to the hotel, a colleague, who was also on the scene, helped re-jog my memory and I figured out the missing piece of the puzzle I was struggling to find all evening. Literally, I replayed the video footage over and over, hoping it would come to me. I know, I need to get a life, but you know the feeling when you can't quite put your finger on it and it drives you nuts? Yeah.
Here's the deal: I saw the photographer sweep in, and oh-so-slightly, cross into the pathway cleared for His Highness. Then, I saw the car wreck coming. In that split second, you're thinking, uh-oh, this is going to be ugly. What's this guy doing? He's infringing on Tiger's "space" and Tiger is going to run him over, which is pretty much what happened.
The chat with one colleague turned into an enlightening group discussion on the bus ride. We watched the footage together several times and came to the this conclusion: The photographer decided to get aggressive with the shot, but when he saw Tiger charging, he tried to back away at the last second. Thing is, Tiger also saw the photog and took out some of his aggression out on the guy and his camera.
We agreed Tiger actually elbowed the photographer in the head initially -- I'm betting the he has a nice bump on his head. Unfortunately, the "accidental" run-in backfired on Tiger and he probably got the worse end of it and felt like an idiot. What do they call that again?
Asked by NBC’s Roger Maltbie in his post-round interview if he was hurt, Tiger replied curtly, “I’m fine.”
Same answer when he was asked by a reporter in the media scrum.
As for the blame game, I’m not assigning it to Tiger or the cameraman. Look, the guy probably should have been paying better attention, but there’s so much pandemonium going on, not to mention so many people that it’s easy to lose yourself in the commotion.
Tiger also wasn’t looking where he was going because he was so pissed off that he shot 75 and he’s accustomed to people getting out of his way. It reminded me of this amusing anecdote from Quail Hollow when Tiger almost plowed into me and Ellie Day.
Well, the edginess in the air was much, much more pronounced here at Olympic. Let’s just say, if I’m that cameraman, I’d feel like a huge a-hole — even if he wasn’t at fault.
In this slo-mo version of The Collision, it almost appears like Tiger rammed his hand to push the guy away and take out a little frustration. Probably not and I can’t remember from my perspective on-scene. However, I do remember seeing it coming, so…tough call. You be the judge.
Well, I’m thinking running into a camera lens is hopefully less damaging than a fire hydrant…