Cynics have their say on Tiger

F or a brief time Sunday, there were doubts about Tiger Woods' ability to make it through the fourth round of the U.S. Open. He barely got off the second tee at Torrey Pines in San Diego, using his club as a cane and showing an expression of pain.

Woods was playing on pure courage and guts, said the golf announcers who trumpeted Woods' effort as heroic. He was struggling to walk on his surgically repaired left knee.

But was he really? Some cynics -- possibly recalling Paul Pierce jumping out of a wheelchair in the NBA Finals a week earlier -- doubted the legitimacy of Woods' injury.

In an Orlando Sentinel blog titled, "Poll: Is Tiger Faking It?" David Whitley commented: "There's been a simmering debate this week at Torrey Pines over the severity of Tiger's knee pain. Is it as bad as he makes it appear, or is he throwing in a little acting job?

"One of his nicknames is 'Oscar,' as in Academy Award, though no pro would ever admit to calling him that. What do you think?"

OK, so maybe Woods' performance wasn't on par with Meg Ryan's fake orgasm scene in "When Harry Met Sally." But he was hopping around after birdies and limping after bad drives and double bogeys.

MORE ON WOODS' WOUNDED KNEE -- After he outlasted Rocco Mediate to win on the 19th playoff hole Monday, Woods deservedly was praised by commentators and writers.

Ed Sherman of the Chicago Tribune marveled how Woods won his 14th major title on "one leg" and said, "Just when it appeared as if he was beaten, he gave another superhuman display on the golf course."

From San Jose Mercury News columnist Mark Purdy: "As he went out and played 91 holes to win the trophy every American golfer covets, it was obvious that Woods' knee was not in the best shape to play even miniature golf. Woods winced, grimaced, limped. Some wondered if he was faking it. He wasn't faking it."

Added Chris Baldwin of "There's no doubt that sportswriters and TV talking heads have played up Woods' knee injury to an incredible degree in a sometimes desperate attempt to make it into an (historic) moment. With that said, the backlash the other way -- charging that Tiger Woods is pain acting -- is almost just as moronic. Yeah, Tiger is such a drama queen. He really tries to play things up. Please."

POOL PLAYER -- As Mediate made a run in Sunday's fourth round, NBC commentator Johnny Miller had a hard time taking him seriously, saying, "He's such a character. He looks more like the guy who cleans Tiger's pool."

PHIL FULL OF IT -- It's fair to say the Boston Celtics' Doc Rivers has outcoached Phil Jackson in the NBA Finals, and Tony Massarotti of the Boston Herald chastised the Los Angeles Lakers coach for his "mystifying behavior" and for being a "sore loser."

"After Game 1, Phil Jackson came off as condescending. After Game 2, he came off as whiny. And after Game 4, he came off as desperate," Massarotti said.