‘Not True, Not Funny’: Tiger Woods Slams Fake Interview That Makes Him Look Like a ‘Jerk’

Athlete calls Golf Digest’s media ethics and integrity into question.

While many attention-seeking celebrities would agree with the statement, “bad press is still press,” professional golfer Tiger Woods apparently does not. And he has good reason. A recent article in Golf Digest, which included photos of an actor posing as the golfer and a fake interview with the fictional golfer, was “really more like a grudge-fueled piece of character assassination,” according to Woods.

He called the ethics and integrity of Golf Digest into question with his response just published on Derek Jeter’s website, “The Players’ Tribune,” Nov. 18.

“Good-natured satire is one thing, but no fair-minded writer would put someone in the position of having to publicly deny that he mistreats his friends, takes pleasure in firing people, and stiffs on tips—and a lot of other slurs, too,” wrote Woods

The Digest article portrayed Woods as an elitist who “has contempt for tipping, enjoys firing employees, is unable to make business decisions, isn’t smart, disregards his friends, and is personally dishonest,” Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg wrote in a letter to Chuck Townsend, the CEO of Conde Nast, which publishes Golf Digest.

In his response on The Players’ Tribune, Woods acknowledged, “All athletes know that we will be under scrutiny from the media.” However, he said that this article was too derogatory to be considered comical.

Woods slammed golf writer Dan Jenkins for the fictional allegations, writing:

“The truth is, Jenkins has no idea how I think or feel about any of the things he claims to know about, which is why he had to make things up. Frustration or resentment because I have not been more available to him should not give him a license for an underhanded attack on me as an athlete, as a professional and as a person. I guess Golf Digest’s editors believe this is a good way to sell more magazines.”

Contrary to Jenkins' claim that he reached out to Woods for an interview, Mark Steinberg confirmed to us that “No such request was made.” Steinberg claimed there was a history of personal hostility for Mr. Woods from Jenkins and this article was part of a personal “vendetta” against Woods.

Woods concluded, “Whether it’s misreported information or opinions I think are way off base, I let plenty of things slide. But this time I can’t do that. The sheer nastiness of this attack, the photos and how it put false words in my mouth just had to be confronted.”

The Golf Digest article was published in the December issue of Golf Digest. The article headline “Dan Jenkins: My (Fake) Q&A with Tiger” is posted on the website but the full article is not online currently.

— Kristine Marsh is Staff Writer for MRC Culture at the Media Research Center. Follow Kristine Marsh on Twitter.