UPDATE (2/17/2023 @ 5 p.m. EST): Tiger has since apologized for the incident. “Yeah, it was supposed to be all fun and games and obviously it hasn’t turned out that way,” he said to press later in the day per ESPN. “If I offended anybody, it was not the case, it was just friends having fun…As I said, if I offended anybody in any way, shape or form, I’m sorry,” Tiger went on.
“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 was — it’s different,” he also explained.
ORIGINAL STORY: Tiger Woods was in rare form on Thursday (Feb. 16) when he teed off at the ninth hole of the Genesis Open. Tiger, 47, ended the first round five strokes behind the leaders but well ahead of anyone in trash talk. After outdriving his playing partner, Justin Thomas, at the start of the ninth, Tiger handed his 29-year-old friend and rival a Tampax tampon. Justin quickly tossed the hygiene product to the ground, but it seemed all was well with this prank. Tiger put his arms around Justin’s shoulders, and they both laughed. However, the joke was lost on a few people.
Yes, Tiger Woods 100% handed Justin Thomas a tampon after he outdrove him. pic.twitter.com/VJbfldyXhw
— Busted Coverage (@bustedcoverage) February 17, 2023
“See, it’s funny because feminine hygiene products are INHERENTLY emasculating, so when a man makes another man touch a tampon, he’s saying, ‘I am a bigger and better man than you, because, GROSS, I made you touch a wrapped Tampax!’” tweeted lawyer Ann Olivarius. Alex McDaniel, Managing Editor of USA Today’s For The Win, tweeted, “If tiger spent three months a year bleeding and coping with period pain, they’d make a whole-ass documentary about how champions overcome insurmountable obstacles.”
Christine Brennan wrote an Op-Ed for USA Today decrying the tampon hand-off as a way to mock Justin. “Woods’ message to Thomas was obvious. It has been the go-to line of silly, often insecure boys for generations: ‘You play like a girl.’ Really, Tiger?” One viewer said, “Call me woke. Call me a snowflake. Call me “offended.” Whatever. But handing another male golfer a tampon is objectively not funny. It shows the sophistication of a 14 year old schoolboy.” (h/t The Guardian).
“I was trying to calm myself down all day, trying to figure out what the hell I’m doing out here because I haven’t played,” Tiger told reporters after the day of golf. “I probably should have appreciated the fans more than I did, but there was so much going on in my head.”
The Genesis Open was Tiger’s first competitive PGA Tour event since The Open Championship in July 2022. Tiger played his first non-major PGA Tour event in October with the ZOZO Championship. Tiger ended the first round at -2, five shots behind then-leaders Max Homa and Keith Mitchell. Woods is the host of the event at the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles and told reporters that he “didn’t want to be the idiot host that missed it.”
The event comes nearly two years after Tiger almost lost his leg in a single-car rollover crash. In the early hours of Feb. 23, 2021, Tiger’s Genesis SUV crossed two oncoming lanes of traffic, struck a curb, and rolled down an embankment. He was rushed to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where he was treated for fractures to both the upper and lower portion of the tibia and fibula bones. A rad was inserted to stabilize the tibia, and his foot and ankle injuries were repaired with screws and pins.