Vijay deferred controversy to a higher authority

Vijay Singh is being unfairly compared to, among others, Funny Cide. You shouldn't need any further explanation.

After all, he broke the most basic rule of behavior in our contentious society -- if you talk it, you have to walk it.

Singh, though, talked it and decided to walk, which is not the same thing at all.

He announces to the world that Annika Sorenstam doesn't belong at the Colonial, which is a silly position but not an indefensible one. And even if it was indefensible, he still has the right to defend it.

So he takes a little heat. Big deal. The scorn of sportswriters and talking heads is a skin rash, tops. That's why Charles Barkley, Martina Navratilova and a few others here and there get credit beyond their publicly stated positions. They say it, and they stand on it.

But then Vijay wins the Byron Nelson Championship on Sunday and announces that, because he promised his wife that he would take this week off if he won, he is now ducking the Colonial.

Seems like abject cowardice to us.

But one of the best rules for living ever expressed is this: If you're sure something is X, think about the ways that it might actually be Y instead.

Which is where we are with Vijay In Flight. Frankly, this is an act of bravery on an entirely different level than you or I are used to.

Now put down those flaming torches, angry villagers, and calm down. You might learn something.

We have here a man who (A) said something unpopular, (B) ducked the heat for what he said, and (C) came up with an excuse for "B" so monumentally stupid that even the people who defended him for "A" have lost their respect for him.

And knowing all that, he's done it anyway. And worse, or in this case better, he (D) put some of the onus for his decision on his wife.

Now that's guts, kids. If you're married, you know.

We don't buy the notion that Singh is a fool. He may be obnoxious (ask a golf writer near you), he may be stubbornly opinionated (ask any pundit) and he may a little behind the times both sociologically and public relations-wise (ask Annika Sorenstam and the ghost of Mark McCormack).

In other words, he knew what he was in for when he announced he was withdrawing from the Colonial. He had to know, because he knew what kind of abuse he took for saying that Sorenstam didn't belong in the Colonial field.

And he did it anyway. A weird and potentially destructive stance to take, but he took it. I mean, he isn't planning to un-withdraw, is he?

But he then upped the ante by saying he promised his wife he would take a week off if he won the Byron Nelson.

Now we don't know Mrs. Singh, but we can't help but think she might let him off the hook this one time, just out of familial kindness: "Listen, honey, we can take another week off later. I know you have to do this for your rep in the clubhouse, and I understand. You owe me, though."

Either that, or she is a woman of Amazonian might and a capacity for vengeance:

"No, Mr. She-Doesn't-Belong-On-The-PGA-Tour, you are not going to get out of cleaning the garage and painting the kitchen just because you're worried about some golf writer's opinion of you. You said you were staying home if you won the damned tournament, and you won the damned tournament. Now you get your mouthy face home and start working that grout gun."

In either case, you know he is not escaping her wrath for dropping her in the middle of this mudstorm, because you know you never get away with it when you try it at your house:

"Hey, Fred Flintstone, what the hell makes you think you can put me in the middle of this? I don't give a rat's hinder whether Annika Sorenstam plays at the Colonial, The Masters, the Uzbek Open or the Apollo. And I'm not the one who decided to strike a blow for separate-gender bunkers. You want to play, play. You want to cut and run, cut and run. But don't put it on me."

And he did it anyway.

That's the thing that makes him a brave man here. He did everything wrong, but damn it, he's not backing down now. He said something people didn't like (but points for bravery), then he backed away (points off for giving up the First Amendment high road), then he really backed away (big points off for acting like a big girl's blouse), then he put part of the bag on his wife (all points forfeited, game over, slink away from the table in shame).

This is bomb-disposal quality bravery, kids. Cigarette-and-blindfold bravery. Walking toward the train bravery. Silly, foolish, crazy, face-in-the-overhead-fan bravery, the kind you rarely see outside places with extraordinary supervision.

I mean, we've all done two or three stupid things to explain a first stupid thing, but we are too afraid to play the spouse card, because spouses can do things to us without fingerprints that even hit men with a full tool chest can't.

Vijay Singh has put it all there to stand on a principle. That the principle seems to be "I wish not to take my medicine" is irrelevant. He found a principle, and good for him.

That is, as long as he can keep away from Mrs. Singh's powerful right cross.

Ray Ratto is a columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle and a regular contributor to ESPN.com