Augusta — Augusta National Golf Club and Masters Tournament Chairman Billy Payne took Tiger Woods to task during his annual chairman’s address.
After comparing Woods the golfer to Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, Payne proceeded to chastise Woods the role model for his behavior off the course and toward fans.
“As he ascended in our rankings of the world’s great golfers, he became an example to our kids that success is directly attributable to hard work and effort,” Payne said during his opening remarks. “But as he now says of himself, he forgot in the process to remember that with fame and fortune comes responsibility, not invisibility. It is not simply the degree of his conduct that is so egregious here; it is the fact that he disappointed all of us and, more importantly, our kids and our grandkids. Our hero did not live up to the expectations we saw for our children.”
Payne seemed to be as bothered by how aloof Woods is in public as he was by his private transgressions.
“Certainly his future will never again be measured only by his performance against par, but measured by the sincerity in his efforts to change,” Payne said. “I hope he realizes that every kid he passes on the course wants his swing but would settle for his smile.
“I hope he can come to understand that life’s greatest rewards are reserved for those who bring joy to other people.”
Payne, a UGA graduate and Atlanta native, also addressed several other subjects in his annual remarks, traditionally delivered the day before the Masters begins.