Rory McIlroy came to Tiger Woods' defense, telling reporters in China that Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee was "completely wrong" for writing a column that insinuated the No. 1 golfer in the world had cheated because of several high-profile rules issues this year.
Speaking at a promotional event on the eve of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, McIlroy took issue with Chamblee's golf.com story in which he gave Woods an "F" grade for the 2013 season and equated his rules violations with a story about getting caught cheating on a fourth-grade exam.
"Yeah, I think Brandel was completely wrong," McIlroy said, according to several outlets, including the UK's Daily Mail. "I don't think he has the authority to say anything like that about Tiger Woods. People wouldn't know who Brandel Chamblee was if it wasn't for Tiger Woods, so I am completely against what he said and I think he should be dealt with in the right way."
Chamblee, a former PGA Tour player who had one victory in his career, is a well-respected Golf Channel analyst who has frequently taken Woods to task, mostly about his golf swing and work with coach Sean Foley.
He also was critical of Woods in the aftermath of the BMW Championship last month, where Woods incurred his third two-stroke penalty of the year. Twice previously he had been docked for taking improper drops; this time he failed to recognize that his ball moved when he removed debris around it, an infraction spotted on high-definition video.
Chamblee's cheating insinuation, however, was published on golf.com. He has not been on the air at Golf Channel since the story appeared two weeks ago. He apologized via Twitter last week and acknowledged that comparing the situation to his own grade-school experience went too far.
Woods and McIlroy played an 18-hole exhibition Monday in China, where Woods said he was ready to move on but added, "The whole issue has been very disappointing as he didn't really apologize and he sort of reignited the whole situation. So the ball really is in the court of the Golf Channel and what they are prepared to do."
McIlroy is competing in the HSBC Champions, which begins Thursday. The World Golf Championship event is his first of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season. The tournament also is among the final events of the 2013 European Tour schedule.
Woods, for the second straight year, is skipping the tournament. He will play next week at the European Tour's Turkish Airlines Open.