Apr
13
2013
The Masters extends Tiger Woods a lifeline
By Stephanie Wei under The Masters
Tiger drops

The drop that shook the world

Who said golf was boring?!? My roommate Carson Griffith, a freelance journalist who until February was the senior gossip columnist for the New York Daily News, has learned so much about the game and The Masters since Thursday, particularly in the last 24 hours.

When I asked for a free association, she said: “Crazy pants, Aussie accents, 14-year-old wunderkind, slow play penalties, and just as much Tiger Woods controversy as I got on the tabloid covers.”

Sums it up! And clearly, *tons* of drama. Yep, this is truly a Masters unlike any other. 

 

When you woke up this morning, you eventually heard there was a potential rules issue — something about a drop, the 15th hole and Tiger potentially getting disqualified. Which, trust me, nobody wants. Your Twitter and Facebook feeds were clogged with all sorts of possible disastrous scenarios, but none of them were ideal. The whole thing is an absolute nightmare.

I stayed up all night, so I wouldn’t miss a second of #DropGate (and so I’d understand it fully to explain it to you all because the Rules of Golf are confusing, but dropping from a water hazard is pretty basic — I’ll give Tiger a pass, though. Heat of the moment, we all make mistakes, blah blah. Oh, by the way, no sleep is my excuse for making sense.).

Please READ this for the full explanation of why Tiger made a bad drop and why we thought he would get DQ’d. 

Masters officials assessed Tiger with a two-shot penalty, so instead of starting the third round at three-under, he will begin the third round at one-under, T19, five shots behind 36-hole leader Jason Day.

Now this was an interesting and polarizing result. But, now that I understand it better, I blame Augusta National Golf Club. Once again, the most-recognized establishment has called the game into disgrace today.

Look, Tiger was confused about the rule. It happens, but given that he messed up the rules earlier this year and missed the cut in Abu Dhabi after he was slapped with a two-shot penalty for an incorrect drop, I must question his knowledge of the Rules of Golf!

As LPGA Tour player Christina Kim tweeted:

(I will compile a full list of player reactions and post them later. From social media, the reaction appears split.)

And turns out, The Masters Committee was aware of Tiger’s questionable drop on the 15th on Friday before he signed his scorecard. This became an outcry because of Tiger’s post-round comments on TV. Basically, he incriminated himself, but also showed he didn’t know the rule.

Hence, The Masters deciding ignorance was OK. Here’s the statement released on Saturday from Fred Ridley, chairman of the Masters competition committee:

In preparation for his fifth shot, the player dropped his ball in close proximity to where he had played his third shot in apparent conformance with Rule 26. After being prompted by a television viewer, the Rules Committee reviewed a video of the shot while [Woods] was playing the 18th hole. At that moment and based on that evidence, the Committee determined he had complied with the Rules.

After he signed his scorecard, and in a television interview subsequent to the round, the player stated that he played further from the point than where he had played his third shot. Such action would constitute playing from the wrong place.

The subsequent information provided by the player’s interview after he had completed play warranted further review and discussion with him this morning. After meeting with the player, it was determined that he had voilated Rule 26, and he was assessed a two stroke penalty. The penalty of disqualification was waived by the Committee under Rule 33 as the Committee had previously reviewed the information and made its initial determination prior to the finish of the player’s round.

Several have asked how the above-mentioned television viewer contacted the Committee. My best guess? I spoke with a PGA Tour rules official on the condition of anonymity and he said his phone blew up with calls from PLAYERS at the time of the drop or later that night, questioning if he made a bad drop.

So you see, this is on the Committee — they have made it worse for Tiger. It would have been better had they told him about their concern and asked him about it, so he could have explained what he was doing.

Officials had concerns after Woods’ post-round interview. If there had been an issue, why not just ask Tiger? They don’t seem to have a problem approaching 14-year-old amateurs. Just saying.  This you-know-what-storm could have all been avoided. And I could have enjoyed Masters Saturday in peace. This has tainted the tournament and it’s unfortunate to take the attention away from the actual golf, including the eventual champion.

The rule that the Committee applied to Tiger is new. Rule 33-7 states:

Only the Committee as a whole has authority to waive or modify a penalty of disqualification under Rule 33-7. A referee or an individual member of the Committee may not take such action.

Tiger tweeted a statement just before noon:

 

 

 

 

Fair enough. Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee and Nick Faldo, a three-time Masters champ, have said Woods should do the right thing and disqualify himself. With this information, I don’t think Tiger will withdraw, nor do I think he should. This is a seriously cringeworthy situation and we have the Committee to thank for that.

So, how about some golf? Guan Tianlang is two-over through 10 today. He may or may not have played the front nine in record time. Actually, I don’t know, I’m confused. I don’t know anything anymore. My mind is about to explode for the fourth time today. That’s all.

 (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)