ANAHEIM, CALIF. – Tiger Woods says Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman meant no harm when she used the term “lynch” during television commentary about him, and he regards the issue closed as he returns to work this week.
“It was unfortunate,” Woods said Monday in his first public comments since Tilghman was suspended for two weeks. “Kelly and I did speak. There was no ill intent. She regrets saying it. In my eyes, it’s all said and done.”
Woods spoke at the Tiger Woods Learning Center, where he announced a contest for children to talk about their first “fist-pump” moment. He also unveiled a bronze of his late father, Earl Woods, which will be in the lobby of the educational center.
The world’s No. 1 player will make his 2008 debut at the Buick Invitational in San Diego, which starts Thursday.
Despite not having played since his season-ending Target World Challenge last month, Woods has been a big part of golf news.
“I’ve been in that situation before,” he said with a slight smile.
Toward the end of the second round at the Mercedes-Benz Championship, Tilghman and analyst Nick Faldo were discussing possible challengers to Woods when Faldo suggested the players gang up on Woods.
“Lynch him in a back alley,” Tilghman said, laughing.
Woods’ agent had issued a statement before Tilghman was suspended, noting Woods and Tilghman were friends and he considered the matter over. Under increasing pressure, however, Golf Channel suspended the anchor for two weeks.
The topic was cranked up a notch last week when Golfweek magazine put a noose on the cover of its Jan. 19 issue, which drew more criticism and an unusually sharp rebuke from PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem.
Golfweek last week fired Dave Seanor, the editor responsible for the cover.
Woods said he never felt pressure to speak out on the use of “lynch,” which stirs graphic reminders of the Old South in which 3,466 blacks were lynched in the United States from 1882 to 1968.
“It was more media-driven than anything else,” Woods said.
He said he several people contacted him because they were curious what he thought.
“I tell them she’s a friend of mine, which she is,” Woods said. “I’ve known her for 10 or 11 years now. We all say things we do regret, and that’s certainly a moment she does regret.”