As a 47-year-old global sporting icon, Tiger Woods really ought to have known better.
After hitting a longer drive than playing partner Justin Thomas at the Genesis Invitational, golf’s greatest ever made an attempt to jokingly mock his mate by handing him a tampon.
It might have been more forgivable if it had been a spontaneous, off-the-cuff prank, but the reality is that Tiger would have had to acquire the sanitary product in advance of the tournament – that’s what makes his attempt at humour all the stranger. Evil? No. Bone-headed? Absolutely.
Unsurprisingly, Tiger attempted to make a quick apology after he was called out on the stunt.
“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,” he said.
“It was not intended to be that way. We play pranks on one another all the time and virally I think this did not come across that way.”
It’s true that sporting stars play pranks on their teammates and opponents often, and naturally not all of them are in good taste or the best of humour.
In fact, some are just downright bizarre….
Done Up Like a Kipper
Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne became just as well known for his off-field antics as his brilliance on the pitch.
His lengthy list of pranks include stealing the Middlesbrough team bus, burping in TV reporter’s faces and convincing his bodyguard he had ‘escaped’ from England’s team hotel through a window by putting his shoes and socks on the ledge and hiding in a nearby wardrobe.
But his best – or worst – prank involved former Rangers teammate Gordon Durie. The Scottish international was known as something of a curmudgeon, but that didn’t stop Gazza from hiding one fresh trout in the boot of Durie’s car and another in a compartment that Ally McCoist described as ‘you wouldn’t know existed.’
Mind you, McCoist wouldn’t be laughing when Gascoigne played the same trick on him – the first fish was easy to find, but the other rotted in the car for days until the Scotland ace could find it!
Suitably inspired, former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli was subject to the same prank in his time at the club. But to make matters worse, he only discovered the scheme after returning from a two-week holiday, with rotten fish and flies rather ruining the ambience inside his £150,000 Maserati.
These days, the hazing of a new player usually requires them to sing a song as part of their initiation.
But Barnsley players took things to a whole new level back in the 1990s when inviting new teammate John Beresford to what he thought was a fancy dress party.
The defender hired a clown costume for the team reception, and set off for the do pleased with his outfit.
As he opened the front door and wandered inside, Beresford’s smile was turned upside down – he had been pranked by his teammates, with the party in actual fact a swanky black tie event.
Whether the Mayor of Barnsley, the guest of honour at the ceremony, saw the funny side remains to be seen….
Tony Bobbitt was an NBA basketball star that turned out for the LA Lakers after a stellar college career.
During one game as a rookie at the Lakers’ famous Staples Center, Bobbitt became convinced that one famous face was giving him the eye.
Lucy Liu was in attendance for the contest, with Bobbitt believing that he was in with a chance of wooing the Hollywood starlet.
His Lakers teammates, seizing the opportunity to prank their young colleague, pretended to get Liu’s phone number for Bobbitt, and even went as far as getting a female member of staff to record a voicemail message to legitimise their hazing.
Bobbitt, not realising what was going on, even set up a date with the object of his affection….when he got to the restaurant, he was met by a giggling gang of basketball players rather than an beautiful acting icon.
Even though they were only teammates for three seasons at McLaren, the pranks played by Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger are the stuff of legend.
From Berger filling the Brazilian’s hotel room with live frogs and throwing his ‘indestructible’ suitcase out of a helicopter, to Senna gluing the Austrian’s credit cards together, this duo quickly became the Ant and Dec of Formula One.
But if infantile humour is your bag, you’ll love the trick Berger played on Senna when he cut his teammate’s mugshot out of his passport and replaced it with an image of what can only be described as a male reproductive organ instead.
The prank earned Senna a 24-hour detention in Argentina – only adding to Berger’s mirth, no doubt.