Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas. Debby Wong
mixed reaction

Tiger Woods gives tampon to playing partner Justin Thomas after outdriving him

The joke during the first round of the Genesis Invitational was considered by many to be demeaning to women.

Updated at 21.41

TIGER WOODS HAS received a mixed reaction after handing Justin Thomas a tampon after outdriving him during the Genesis Invitational.

Woods, who was making his return to top-level action for the first time since July, could be seen handing the product to Thomas as they walked off the ninth tee in the first round.

Thomas immediately threw it on the floor and Woods could be seen laughing as he put his arm around his playing partner.

The incident has sparked controversy since footage and images of it began circulating on social media. In Ireland, it became the topic of a lengthy discussion on RTÉ’s Liveline earlier today while, in the wider online world, the reaction has been divisive.

Though some found humour in the exchange, others were less impressed with what they considered to be an implication by Woods that Thomas had ‘driven the ball like a woman’ and, by extension, that women are inferior to men.

Sky Sports golf presenter Sarah Stirk said: “We want women’s sport to be on a playing field with men and I think this incident was extremely disappointing. I think it was crass, to be honest.

“They’re two good friends, JT and Tiger Woods; good buddies, play a lot together. Tiger Woods outdrove Justin Thomas. It was seemingly done in jest.

To me it was laddy, blokey behaviour, passing him the tampon, effectively saying: ‘I’ve outdriven you, you’re driving the ball like a woman’ — effectively the inference of the incident that happened, and that to me says females, women, are inferior to men.

“‘I’ve outdriven you, you’ve driven the ball a shorter distance than I have and therefore women are inferior to men.’

“I think that’s not what we want to be showcasing in the world of sport. It was crass, it was disappointing and I think [there was] surprise from my side because he’s playing in the Genesis on the PGA Tour. It’s a tournament that he hosts.”

Replying to one Twitter user who described it as a ‘Boomer joke’, renowned sports journalist and golf author Rick Reilly said: “Not a boomer joke. It’s a Tiger joke. All his humor is gross and tops out at 7th grade.”

Closer to home, Dublin Gaelic footballer Noëlle Healy was one of several high-profile Irish sportswomen to criticise Woods’ gesture. “One step forward two steps back for advancing conversation around menstruation for #sportswomen everywhere,” tweeted the five-time All-Ireland winner and four-time All-Star, adding the sarcastic hashtag, “#greatstuff”.

Woods initially was not asked about the incident following his opening round of 69 at Riviera but the third member of his group, world number two Rory McIlroy, admitted he had not enjoyed being outdriven by the 47-year-old.

“I’m going to go work on the range,” McIlroy said after his 67. “I put my driver up a click in loft at the start of the week, I might have to turn it back down again. I don’t like him hitting it by me.”

However, he later insisted he didn’t mean to cause offence when he pranked playing partner Thomas.

“Yeah, it was supposed to be all fun and games and obviously it hasn’t turned out that way,” Woods said Friday after a second-round 74 left him in danger of missing the cut.

“If I offended anybody in any way, shape, or form, I’m sorry. It was not intended to be that way.

“It was just we play pranks on one another all the time and virally I think this did not come across that way, but between us it’s different.”

Woods was recovering from a fifth back surgery when he crashed his car in Los Angeles two days after the Genesis Invitational in February 2021, suffering multiple fractures of his right leg and ankle.

After being sidelined for 14 months, Woods returned to action in the 2022 Masters and made the cut at Augusta National and in the following month’s US PGA Championship, but withdrew following the third round.

The 15-time major winner missed the cut in the Open at St Andrews and had to withdraw from the Hero World Challenge in the first week in December after developing plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

Later that month he did play a made-for-TV exhibition over 12 holes and the PNC Championship with his son Charlie, although in both events he was allowed to ride in a cart.

- With reporting by Gavan Casey and AFP

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