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Tiger Woods' agent threatens legal action for 'cheat' accusation

From Jillian Martin and Gary Morley, CNN
updated 12:25 PM EDT, Sat October 19, 2013
U.S. golfer Tiger Woods takes a drop in the rough during the first round of the 2013 British Open at Muirfield in July.
U.S. golfer Tiger Woods takes a drop in the rough during the first round of the 2013 British Open at Muirfield in July.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Report giving Tiger Woods an "F" for 2013 is called "absolutely disgusting" by his agent
  • Mark Steinberg considering legal action over comments by Brandel Chamblee
  • The TV commentator says Wood was "cavalier with rules" but denies calling him a cheat
  • Woods, the PGA Tour's player of the year, was penalized for three rule infringements in 2013

(CNN) -- Tiger Woods' agent says he may take legal action after the world's No. 1 golfer was accused of cheating on the course this year.

Mark Steinberg, who has helped the American become the planet's wealthiest athlete, criticized a "shameful, baseless" report on the Golf.com website by TV commentator Brandel Chamblee.

Chamblee, a former pro golfer, said in his end-of-season summary that Woods had been "cavalier with the rules" -- and he made parallels with one of his own school experiences when he was caught cheating in a math test and marked down from a grade of 100 to an "F."

He said his teacher quoted the 19th-century poem "Marmion" by Walter Scott: "Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!"

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"I never did ask my teacher how she knew I cheated and I certainly didn't protest the grade," wrote the 51-year-old, who gave Woods an "F" for his season's achievements, crossing out a "100" mark.

"I knew I had done the wrong thing and my teacher the right, but I never forgot the way I felt when I read that quote.

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"I remember when we only talked about Tiger's golf. I miss those days. He won five times and contended in majors and won the Vardon Trophy and ... how shall we say this ... was a little cavalier with the rules."

Woods was named the PGA Tour's player of the year for the 11th time after a season in which he won five tournaments and had two top-10 finishes in the four majors.

However, at April's Masters he was controversially not disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard after taking an improper drop, but was penalized.

The 37-year-old was also given two-stroke penalties in Abu Dhabi in January and last month at the BMW Championship for rule infringements, while he was suspected by some of taking a favorable drop at May's Players Championship after hitting a water hazard.

"There's nothing you can call a golfer worse than a cheater. This is the most deplorable thing I have seen," Steinberg said in a statement he later verified to CNN.

"I'm not one for hyperbole, but this is absolutely disgusting. Calling him a cheater? I'll be shocked, stunned if something is not done about this. Something has to be done. There are certainly things that just don't go without response. It's atrocious. I'm not sure if there isn't legal action to be taken. I have to give some thought to legal action.

"This is, 'Hey, look at me,' in its lowest form. Brandel Chamblee's comments are shameful, baseless and completely out of line. In his rulings, Tiger voiced his position, accepted his penalty and moved on. There was no intention to deceive anyone.

"Chamblee's uninformed and malicious opinions, passed on as facts, and his desperate attempt to garner attention is deplorable. Brandel has a right to form his opinion. If he wants to give him an 'F' for his year? It's silly. But this goes so far above that and is out of bounds. It's stunning."

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Chamblee debated the issue on his Twitter account, where he denied calling Woods a cheat.

"To be accurate, I said he was cavalier with the rules. How is it anyone would argue to the contrary," he wrote.

British golf journalist James Corrigan responded: "The fact you wrote that and gave him an 'f' meant you called him a cheat. That isn't right."

Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy -- whose season has gone from bad to worse since missing the cut with Woods in Abu Dhabi when they were No. 1 and 2 in the rankings -- dropped out of contention at the Korea Open Saturday.

The Northern Irishman, now sixth in the world, blamed a "weird" day after his third-round 75 left him 10 shots behind leader Kim Hyung-tae of South Korea, who was four clear.

"It was weird. I actually started the round really well," said the 24-year-old, who has begun legal proceedings against his management company and reportedly also split from tennis star girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki.

"I just think the story of the day is that I missed a lot of putts, missed a lot of chances for birdies at the start of the round and then mixed a few short ones for pars in the middle and end of the round. That's really what it was.

"So yeah, a frustrating day because I was in contention after two days and if you shoot a solid score today you're right in there tomorrow."

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