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Calling the Shots:

Champions Tour takes to a grander stage

February 23, 2010|By Steve Virgen

It wasn’t too long ago when golfing legend Tom Watson ripped into Tiger Woods, delivering a message to the now-downtrodden cautionary tale.

Of course Watson wants the best for Woods, a part-time Corona del Mar resident. He wants Woods to return to the game.

But at a time when Woods is rehabilitating his career because of the fallout from his infidelity, Watson took the opportunity to point out other faults before Woods returns.

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“I feel he has not carried the same stature that other great players that have come along like Jack (Nicklaus), Arnold (Palmer), Byron Nelson, the (Ben) Hogans, in the sense that there was language and club throwing on the golf course," Watson said in a story that appeared in the Chicago Tribune last month. "You can grant that of a young person that has not been out here for a while. But I think he needs to clean up his act and show the respect for the game that other people before him have shown."

The message is significant, meaningful words from Watson, the 60-year-old who has 39 PGA Tour titles and nearly won the British Open last year.

He’s at a time in his career when he can critique others, even the most popular golfer in the game.

Watson is in the spotlight in Newport Beach, as he plays in the Toshiba Classic March 5-7. Woods is not playing golf right now. He’s in repair mode, amid damage control.

“It’s bad for our game,” Watson said of Woods’ situation during a television interview in Kansas City for an NBC affiliate.

But is it really bad for the game?

Overall, yes. But Watson also plays on the Champions Tour. He has 13 wins there and he is looking for No. 14 at the Toshiba Classic. There’ll be some talk of Tiger Woods during the week, but it appears the Champions Tour can take to a grander stage as the PGA Tour is without Woods. Maybe people want to go back in time and find their old heroes. Maybe people want to cherish the legends even more. That can be found on the Champions Tour.

You won’t see these guys hit the ball as far as those on the PGA Tour, but you also won’t see as much controversy here.

About as much dirty laundry you’ll find during the Toshiba Classic are the groans and complaints from the golfers about how much their wives have spent while shopping at all the extravagant shops nearby.

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