By Andrew Both
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Golf Channel television pundit Brandel Chamblee was out of order earlier this month when he implied world number one Tiger Woods had cheated, Rory McIlroy said on Thursday.
In a column, former U.S. PGA Tour winner Chamblee graded several golfers for their seasons. Of Woods, he wrote: "He won five times and contended in majors and won the Vardon (Player of the Year) Trophy and ... how shall we say this ... was a little cavalier with the rules".
Woods has threatened to sue Chamblee over his remarks and world number six McIlroy jumped to the defence of the 14-times major champion by urging the Golf Channel to take action against the pundit.
"He was out of line and something should be done about it (by) the Golf Channel, that's who Brandel is employed by and they are the ones that can deal with it," the Northern Irishman told reporters after taking the first-round lead at the WGC-HSBC Champions Tournament.
"I'll let the Golf Channel executives think what the right way is," added McIlroy, referring to Chamblee's full-time employer although the comments were made on golf.com which is not affiliated to the TV network.
American Chamblee, who has been an outspoken critic of Woods's swing, has already announced he will stop his golf.com column at the end of the year and instead write only for golfchannel.com.
Woods has been involved in a few rules controversies this season, most notably at the U.S. Masters in April where he dropped his ball in an incorrect spot after taking a penalty from a hazard at the 15th hole.
The 37-year-old American was given a retrospective two-stroke penalty.
Organisers allowed the infraction to go unpunished on the day it occurred before a Masters official received a telephone call about the violation from former U.S. Golf Association rules director David Eger.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)