by Jeff Skinner
My, what a difference a few hours makes. At the close of the second round of The Masters last evening the talk was of Tiger’s bounce off the flagstick, Tianlang Guan’s slow play penalty, Jason Day’s resurgence and John Paramor’s candidacy for head official of the PGA Tour. Fast forward a few hours and The Masters is mired in controversy surrounding Tiger’s incorrect drop at the 15th hole.
Thanks to a few viewers that called into question the drop and Tiger’s own admission that he dropped a few steps behind his last shot the officials reviewed all the circumstances that played into the second controversial ruling in a few hours at Augusta.
You can read detailed accounts of the situation here, and here. Woods looked flustered when his ball careened into the water after a near perfect approach and he did indeed drop behind his previous spot. He should have known, under no rules of golf do you ever drop from behind where you last struck the ball unless you are going back to the tee and that was not the case here. He elected to drop where he thought was close to his previous spot but he was well behind it.
After his round the rules officials determined he took a legal drop, he signed his scorecard and probably went looking for Lindsay Vonn. But the Masters Rules Committee, at the urging of a few phone calls continued their investigation and used Tiger’s own words to “reopen” the investigation if you will.
They determined the drop to be illegal, but not intentional and slapped Tiger with a two stroke penalty for hitting from the wrong spot. But many scream that he needed to be disqualified because of signing an incorrect scorecard.
But he is not disqualified due to the HDTV Rule, whatever that is, which says a player cannot be DQ’d due to a call in that results in an investigation after the officials had determined the immediate action was correct. You can read the statement from The Masters waiving the disqualification here.
So there is plenty of blame to go around: Woods took an illegal drop, the rules officials didn’t investigate the drop deeply enough while Woods was in the scorer’s tent and the powers that be have elected to utilize a clause that saves them their four time champion. What a mess.
And of course there are voices like Greg Norman (no friend of Tiger), David Duval, Brandel Chamblee and Nick Faldo calling for Tiger to withdraw on his own in the spirit of sportsmanship. Yea, like that would ever happen. And then there is Freddy Couples and Hunter Mahan, both buddies of Tiger who say this was the right call.
Can a guy just get a damn golf tournament here!
What a mess, and folks at The Masters don’t like mess. They issued their statement and are ready to move on and if Woods fights back from his now five stroke deficit, and don’t count him out, and manages to win his fifth Masters there will be smiles and green jackets and handshakes all around.
We all relish that The Masters is so very special and different from everything else. And this is just another stained page in the long, colorful history of The Masters. This is The Masters, they run their own show. It is not run by The PGA Tour or the PGA of America or the USGA. They invite who they want and set their own rules. If we don’t like it, that’s tough, it’s their show and 99% of the time they get it right. It’s just a shame that a dumb move by the biggest star in the game and a rules snafu by the officials have tainted this year’s Masters.
Let’s hope the next two rounds are so compelling this turns out to be inconsequential.