For those of you who can’t get enough golf, last weekend was a good one. The Players Championship has golf’s most rewarding payout in terms of money and is played on the course with the most exciting finishing stretch in the world (unless you’re Sergio Garcia).
And Tiger Woods is officially back:
Working the ball both ways ...
Putting well again.
Unquestionably the number one golfer in the world.
So why do I have a sour taste in my mouth from his play over the last month?
Here’s the deal — golf has always been the world’s most “gentlemanly” game. Golfers police themselves. When Bobby Jones was praised for calling a penalty on himself in a U.S. Open for an infraction that no one else saw, his quote was along the lines of, “You may as well praise a man for not robbing a bank.”
Golfers follow the rules.
Because that’s what golf is all about.
By this point, you know what I’m talking about. In round two at The Masters last month, Tiger got a terrible break when an approach shot flew directly into the flag stick and ricocheted back into the water. He then took a drop.
The next day, he was made aware of a possible rules violation. After all agreed there was an infraction, he was assessed a two-shot penalty.
And this is where the golf world went flat out nuts.
Nick Faldo and Brandell Chamblee said on The Golf Channel that Tiger should unequivocally withdraw.
Because golfers follow the rules.
At first, I agreed. Tiger broke a rule. He signed an incorrect card. He should be disqualified.
But here’s the problem. The Masters’ officials were aware of the incident prior to him signing his card from round two. But rather than approach Tiger directly and ask about the drop he took, they deemed that the drop was acceptable prior to ever talking to him.
The Rules Committee saw a possible infraction, investigated it and then ruled there was no infraction. OK, in my mind, at this point, the ordeal is over.
But then came the interview. After the decision was made, Tiger gave a live interview on CBS and, when describing the drop, made a statement that then turned out to prove he inadvertently took an illegal drop.
So now what? Well, the old rule was simple. If you signed a card for less than what it should have been, you’re disqualified.
The old rule. That’s right, there’s now a new rule that, without debating the intent of the rule, allows a committee to impose a two-stroke penalty in lieu of a DQ.
So now the questions.
“Basic” question: Did Tiger break a rule (the drop)? Yes.
“Next” question: Was Tiger penalized in accordance with that rule? Yes.
“But” question: Could the committee have prevented this by having one simple conversation before Tiger signed his card? Yes.
“So” question: Is it really Tiger’s responsibility to identify an infraction even though he didn’t know it occurred and then enforce a rule that is no longer the governing rule? I honestly don’t think it is.
“Final” question: So why do I still feel like something “not right” happened? I don’t know.
Maybe there is no right answer. All I’ll say is, had he won that tournament, his major victory tally would have gone from 14 to 15.
And then there was the drop he took on 14 last Sunday.
As always, thanks for reading. And until next week, “Hit ‘em straight!”
Jonah Karzmer is a former Valley Golf Professional who authors a Sunday golf column for The Vindicator. In his spare time, he sells commercial insurance for Huntington Insurance and loves getting feedback on his weekly columns via email at Jonah.firstname.lastname@example.org