Tiger Woods has apologised for handing Justin Thomas a tampon after outdriving him during the Genesis Invitational.
Woods, who was making his return to top-level action for the first time since July, could be seen handing the product to Thomas as they walked off the ninth tee in the first round.
Thomas immediately threw it on the floor as Woods could be seen laughing as he put his arm around his playing partner.
Woods received criticism on social media following the incident and told a press conference after completing his second round: “It was supposed to be all fun and games and obviously it hasn’t turned out that way.
“If I offended anybody in any way, shape or form, I’m sorry. It was not intended to be that way. It was just we play pranks on one another all the time and virally I think this did not come across that way, but between us it was different.”
Some backed Woods’ sense of humour, with well-known social media influencer Paige Spiranac writing on Twitter: “If anyone tries to cancel Tiger over this we riot. It’s funny.”
Others were less impressed with Woods’s sense of humour, with renowned sports journalist Rick Reilly writing: “All his humor is gross and tops out at 7th grade.”
The incident occurred during his opening round of 69 at Riviera but Woods was not asked about it until he completed his second round with a three-over-par 74 that put him one over for the tournament.
Rory McIlroy, who played with Woods in the first round, admitted he had not enjoyed being outdriven by the 47-year-old.
“I’m going to go work on the range,” McIlroy said after his 67. “I put my driver up a click in loft at the start of the week, I might have to turn it back down again. I don’t like him hitting it by me.”
Woods was recovering from a fifth back surgery when he crashed his car in Los Angeles two days after the Genesis Invitational in February 2021, suffering multiple fractures of his right leg and ankle.
After being sidelined for 14 months, Woods returned to action in the 2022 Masters and made the cut at Augusta National and in the following month’s US PGA Championship, but withdrew following the third round.
The 15-time major winner missed the cut in the Open at St Andrews and had to withdraw from the Hero World Challenge in the first week in December after developing plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
Later that month he did play a made-for-TV exhibition over 12 holes and the PNC Championship with his son Charlie, although in both events he was allowed to ride in a cart.