Tiger Woods Two Shot Penalty Ruling at the Masters (Instead of Disqualification) Does Not Sit Well with Many


ELAINE: I still don’t see what the big deal is.
KRAMER: A rule is a rule. And let’s face it. Without rules there’s chaos.

Seinfeld, The Big Salad

So … for all intents and purposes it certainly appeared like the ‘Powers That Be’ running the Masters decided to twist the PGA rule book in favor of Tiger Woods this morning.

Early Saturday, it appeared Woods was in line for a disqualification, all stemming from the placement of his drop on the 15th hole on Friday. Instead, Woods was only assessed a two-stroke penalty.

Cue the outrage from seemingly everybody who isn’t a CBS executive or has the last name “Vonn.”



Admittedly, I’m not an expert on the minutiae of the PGA rule book.  Strangely enough, there are people who watch golf on television and call up to report violations. It does seem Woods violated some sort of rule with his advantageous drop and signed off on his scorecard. Rules in golf, compared to many other sports, seem sacred to both the players and governing body.

A rule change in 2011 does allow a little leeway for players to be assessed a penalty after that fact rather than being DQ-ed for signing an incorrect scorecard if it’s done inadvertently. Reading that rule (and who doesn’t want to read ‘Decision 33-7/4.5′ on a Saturday morning?) it seems to give the Masters and the PGA a leg to stand on — by the letter of the law.

The question is, did Woods’ knowingly take a favorable drop on the 15th hole figuring nobody would notice? That’s why it would seem golf people feel Woods should be disqualified since he did it on purpose and said as much to reporters after his round. It’s hard to feign ignorance when the words coming out of your mouth say, in plain English, you committed the misdeed, right?

However this shakes out, even with the two-stroke penalty, the general perception will be — rightly or wrongly — that Woods got away with one because of who he is, even if the Masters throughout its history isn’t exactly known for bending the rules or making exceptions. (Considering the Masters’ track record, it’s actually surprising it would be so lenient. You’d have to think somebody at Augusta National would relish the chance to boot the world’s most famous golfer from the sport’s biggest tournament on rule like this.)

Barring Woods’ having a change of heart before he tees off this afternoon around 1:30 and taking Faldo’s pleas to disqualify himself, this controversy isn’t going to go away.

Imagine if, even with the two-stroke penalty, he goes on to win the Masters … or loses by one. The heads of some pundits might explode.

Or even better, somebody will write a column that his Masters title should have an asterisk next to it. That would be loads of fun.

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