PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — These should be happy times for golf.
Tiger Woods won for the 75th time on the PGA Tour and set a record with his eighth win at Torrey Pines. It was a command performance, the kind that made people think more about where he is going than where he went.
The next week, Phil Mickelson had a chance at 59 until his 25-foot birdie putt on the last hole took a cruel spin around the cup. He thought he had golf's magic number and instead shot his tax rate in California. Lefty still sailed to a wire-to-wire win in the Phoenix Open.
It was the first time since 2009 that golf's two biggest stars won in consecutive weeks.
The trouble is, any discussion about golf these days goes beyond birdies and bogeys. Now it includes "bifurcation."
And the day after the buzz was about Tiger, the focus shifted to deer antlers.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem might have seen this coming when he said two weeks ago that while he views the professional game as being the strongest it has ever been, "I don't like to see distractions."
There are too many of them right now.
Vijay Singh was leaving the practice range at Pebble Beach on Tuesday when one of the few reporters that has a working relationship with the Fijian called out to him. Singh looked at him, said nothing, and kept walking.
"So that would be no comment?" the reporter said.
"Yes," Singh replied.
Sports Illustrated reported that Singh paid $9,000 to Sports With Alternative to Steroids in November for products that included deer-antler spray, which is said to have an insulin-like growth factor, which is on the PGA Tour's list of prohibited substances. Singh told the magazine he uses the spray "every couple of hours ... every day."
Singh might have been better off keeping quiet, as he often does. But he issued a statement confirming he used the spray, but was unaware it had a banned substance.
"I am absolutely shocked that deer-antler spray may contain a banned substance and am angry that I have put myself in this position," he said. "I have been in contact with the PGA Tour and am cooperating fully with their review of this matter."
The tour will not comment except to say it is looking into the matter, though it is backed into a corner.
Singh's admission alone constitutes an anti-doping violation. The first violation is up to a one-year suspension. The tour has a minimum requirement to publish the name of the player, his anti-doping violation and the sanction.
As long as Singh is in the field, that means the tour has not suspended him. He is playing this week. For now.
That's not the kind of distraction Finchem was talking about, but it's a big one. The only other player suspended under the anti-doping policy was Doug Barron, the consummate journeyman. Singh is a three-time major champion who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2006. He hasn't won in more than four years, and he had made it to the Tour Championship only once since 2008.