GOLF CHANNEL ANCHOR
KELLY TILGHMAN SUSPENDED FOR 'LYNCH' REMARK ABOUT TIGER WOODS
HONOLULU (AP) — Golf Channel suspended anchor Kelly Tilghman for two weeks on Wednesday for saying
last week that young players who wanted to challenge Tiger Woods should ``lynch him in a back alley.''
Tilghman was laughing during the exchange Friday with
analyst Nick Faldo at the Mercedes-Benz Championship, and Woods' agent at IMG said he didn't think there was any ill intent.
But the comments became prevalent on news shows Wednesday,
and the Rev. Al Sharpton joined the fray by demanding she be fired immediately. Golf Channel didn't know who would replace
Tilghman in the booth this week at the Sony Open or next week at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
``There is simply no place on our network for offensive
language like this,'' Golf Channel said in a statement.
Tilghman became golf's first female anchor last year
when the PGA Tour signed a 15-year deal in which Golf Channel broadcasts the first three events of the year, weekday coverage
of all tour events, and full coverage of the Fall Series and opposite-field events.
The suspension ends in time for the Buick Invitational
on Jan. 24, when Woods will make his 2008 debut.
Faldo and Tilghman were discussing young players who
could challenge the world's No. 1 player toward the end of Friday's broadcast at Kapalua when Faldo suggested that ``to take
Tiger on, maybe they should just gang up for a while.''
``Lynch him in a back alley,'' Tilghman replied.
``While we believe that Kelly's choice of words was inadvertent
and that she did not intend them in an offensive manner, the words were hurtful and grossly inappropriate,'' Golf Channel
said in its statement. ``Consequently, we have decided to suspend Kelly for two weeks, effective immediately.''
Woods and Tilghman have known each other 12 years. She
was picked to host a club demonstration with Woods in south Florida when he talked about new products from Nike Golf.
Tilghman was helped when Mark Steinberg, Woods' agent
at IMG, said it was a non-issue and considered the matter ``case closed.''
``Tiger and Kelly are friends, and Tiger has a great
deal of respect for Kelly,'' Steinberg said Tuesday night in a statement released by Golf Channel. ``Regardless of the choice
of words used, we know unequivocally that there was no ill-intent in her comments.''
Tilghman had said in a previous statement she apologized
directly to Woods, and the immediate support from Woods' camp was critical.
After Woods won the 1997 Masters at age 21 to become
its youngest champion, Fuzzy Zoeller referred to him as ``that little boy,'' and suggested that Woods not serve fried chicken
or collard greens, ``or whatever the hell they serve,'' at the Champions Dinner.
Woods, who had a different management team in his first
full season, did not respond for three days to Zoeller's apology, and it took Zoeller years to recover from the fallout.
Tilghman's comment made the rounds Wednesday on TV shows
such as CNN's Headline News, and it was prominently discussed on blogs and message boards on the Internet. It also was a topic
on the practice range at the Sony Open.
I'm sure Kelly wishes she never said that,'' Jim Furyk said. ``I haven't
spoken with Tiger, but I've been told that they've had their talk and they've discussed it. Anything I say is kind of just
like pouring salt in the wound at this point. Obviously, she would love to not have said that and for it not to be news. I'm
glad that her and Tiger spoke.''
Fred Funk only heard about the comment Wednesday morning.
``There was no ill intent at all,'' he said. ``I think
it was just a slip, and they said that Tiger has already forgiven her. I think when you're in the TV tower for that many hours,
you're going to wish you didn't say some things probably, and that was one thing that slipped out. I think you've got to give
them a little grace.
``Her integrity, how Kelly is respected out here, is
pretty good. I think Tiger really likes Kelly, so that helped squash it. Because Tiger could have run off with that if he
took it the wrong way. But he didn't, so that was good.''
Before her suspension was announced, Sharpton spoke earlier
on CNN's ``Prime News'' and continued to push for her firing, saying he wanted to meet with Golf Channel because the comments
were ``an insult to all blacks.''
``Lynching is not murder in general, it's not assault in general,''
Sharpton said. ``It's a specific racial term that this women should be held accountable for. What she said is racist. Whether
she's a racist ... is immaterial. She's a broadcaster. The channel has to be accountable to the public.''