Sep
16
2013
Follow-up on Tiger’s oscillating/moving ball controversy
By Stephanie Wei under FedEx Cup

Here now, we have a screen grab from one of Geoff Shackelford’s readers of Tiger Woods and the incident during the second round that resulted in a two-stroke penalty (go here for the video footage). Here’s the ball before Woods started meddling with the loose impediments around it and after.

TigerBallMoveCloseups

 

I know it looks so slight and didn’t improve his lie and I also know stuff like this makes golf look silly to the average sports fan, but it’s a pretty basic rule in the game. I was reading some of the comments in the initial post and there was a pretty good discussion going on, so I figured it was worth a follow-up. 

I can’t read Tiger’s mind, but as some of you pointed out, he stopped messing with the sticks and leaves around his ball once he saw it “oscillate” or “move.” Maybe he thought it did just oscillate, but maybe he should have just left it alone in the first place, knowing how every move he makes receives extra scrutiny and becomes a massive story and/or conspiracy.

And it’s not just about the HD cameras catching something. It’s the same thing as when your ball moves (not due to an outside agent, like the wind) after you’ve addressed it on the putting green. The immediate reaction of 99% of pros and highly competitive players is to back off and call themselves out, inform their playing partners and then find a rules official. For me, at least, something like that is second nature.

Same goes for moving loose impediments around your ball in the woods. If your ball even oscillates, you immediately back off and go through the motions I described re: the putting green scenario.

I’m not saying Tiger “intended” to improve his lie and tried to cover it up. I’m sure he just thought the ball oscillated and it wasn’t a big deal, but given the rules snafus he’s gotten himself into this year, you’d think he’d be a little more careful.

What do Woods’ fellow players have to say about the incident? Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk chimed in, via GolfChannel.com’s Ryan Lavner’s report:

“The rules are tough,” Steve Stricker said, “and there’s always a fine line between oscillating and moving. A player can see it as one thing and the camera is going to obviously pick it up differently. … It’s unfortunate that he’s been at the center of this about three times this year. I don’t know why, if it’s just because all the TV is on him or what.”

That would seem one of the likely reasons, as Woods’ under-the-microscope career is even more scrutinized with the advent of high-definition cameras. In Abu Dhabi and Augusta, Woods admits that he made the improper call. That wasn’t the case this time.

Said Furyk, “The scrutiny that he’s on television, and every step, every little thing he does is not only watched but then everyone has to weigh in on whether it was good or not. I thank the Lord that I don’t have to live that way on a daily basis.”

Like I said, every little move Tiger makes is scrutinized and overanalyzed to death, but that’s not the point — it’s simply interesting that Woods has received three two-stroke penalties in 2013. Obviously, his integrity has been called into question for his off-course scandals that unfolded at the end of 2009, but we’ve never even considered discussing it with regard to his on-course ethics.

I’m still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt since we all make silly mistakes and his moves are examined more closely than any of his contemporaries. The only part that gives me pause is the number of times a controversy has spawned in 2013, which will no doubt be remembered as the year of Tiger’s rules gaffes.

Woods shot even-par 71 on Monday to finish T11, but he earned enough points to surpass Henrik Stenson for the no. 1 spot in the FEC points standings heading into the Tour Championship.