AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tiger Woods was wrong.
Augusta National Golf Club was wrong.
Two wrongs aren’t made right by the Masters leadership invoking Rule 33-7 and waiving Woods’ disqualification so he can continue to pursue a 15th major championship title this weekend.
A foul odor hung over Augusta National on Friday when Tianlang Guan was penalized one shot for slow play. The club had discretion in the matter, and it decided not to cut the kid a break. Because while Guan clearly was in violation of the tournament’s slow-play policy, it’s difficult to believe he is the first player in 77 years of the Masters to be in violation. The air here freshened a bit when Guan made the cut, becoming the youngest player to make a cut in major championship history.
Now, with Augusta National using its discretion in the Woods ruling by waiving a DQ for signing an incorrect scorecard, this Masters doesn’t smell right again.
Woods believes “Winning fixes everything.”
Woods said that a long time ago, he has repeated it over the years, and he took some heat when Nike resurrected the quote after he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational a few weeks ago.
How curious the timing of Nike’s commercial feels now.
Winning fixes everything?
Woods’ conviction will be put to the test if he wins this Masters.
We’ll see if winning fixes everying because a legion of folks believes if he wins now, this Masters victory will be tainted, that it will deserve an asterisk.
If Woods wins this weekend, if he goes on to win one more major championship than Jack Nicklaus won, how will that record be regarded?
Woods, it’s pretty clear, did not know he was breaking a rule at the 15th hole Friday. It sounds like he mixed up two rules regarding the procedure for taking a drop after hitting a ball into a hazard. Clearly, Woods did give himself an advantage by failing to drop from the spot where he originally played when he caromed a shot off the flagstick and into the water. Woods dropped about two yards behind the spot he originally played. He broke the rules doing so, requiring a two-shot penalty. He signed an incorrect scorecard in failing to apply the penalty.
Augusta National’s mistake was that after being advised by a television viewer that Woods took an improper drop, the rules committee reviewed Woods’ drop. It did so while Woods was playing the 18th hole. The committee determined Woods complied with the rules. Later, after Woods signed his scorecard, he explained to media that he was trying to drop two yards behind his original lie to give himself more room to land his shot in front of the flag. Upon hearing that Woods intentionally dropped away from his original lie, the committee reversed itself and determined Woods did drop in violation of the rules.
Augusta National’s mistake was not discussing the drop with Woods after its rules committee reviewed the replay and before Woods signed his scorecard. By doing so, the committee could have applied the penalty before Woods signed an incorrect scorecard.
Fred Ridley, the Masters competition committee chairman, said Saturday morning that waiving disqualification was warranted because the committee waited until after Woods signed his scorecard before reversing its original ruling that there was no penalty.
“We made a decision before he signed his scorecard, and we think he’s entitled to be protected,” Ridley said.
The bottom line is that Woods violated the Rules of Golf taking an improper drop. Whether he intentionally did so doesn’t matter. He should have known the rules, and he signed for an incorrect scorecard.
No matter what the Augusta National’s rules committee says now, it doesn’t change that.