The Golf Blog: If Tiger Woods wins Masters today, why there will be no asterisk

mulligan, 14 April 2013, Comments Off on The Golf Blog: If Tiger Woods wins Masters today, why there will be no asterisk
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The Golf Blog says: Tiger Woods sits four shots back of leaders Angel Cabrera and Brandt Snedeker (-7). And in between the leaders and Tiger are four pretty good golfers, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Marc Leishman, and Matt Kuchar. But Tiger could make up 4 shots easily on Sunday, so no one should doubt that he has a good chance of winning this year’s Masters. Although he has never come back from behind on Sunday to win a major (the 14 majors he won he had the lead on Sunday), today may be the day that Tiger charts new territory.

And, if he does win, the debate will ensue whether an asterisk(*) should be placed next to his victory, given that he benefited from a controversial ruling from the Rules Committee, which invoked “exceptional” circumstances under Rule 33-7 to waive the disqualification Tiger faced for signing the wrong scorecard. The Committee felt that the 2-stroke penalty for Tiger’s improper drop was sufficient, particularly given that the Committee itself said it reviewed the video of Tiger’s drop on Friday, thought it was OK, and didn’t talk to Tiger before he signed his scorecard. In other words, the “exceptional” circumstance was the Committee itself had a chance to save Tiger from disqualification before he signed his scorecard, but the Committee made a mistake.

The Golf Blog has been highly critical of the Rules Committee’s explanation of its review of Tiger’s drop. But we do believe the result–letting Tiger play on–was a fair one, even if not expressly covered in Rule 33-7. Tiger does bear responsibility for his own improper drop. Had he been disqualified, he would have no one but himself to blame (and maybe his caddie Joe Lacava). But when the Rules Committee made the decision to waive disqualification under Rule 33-7 due to its own error in the initial review of the video of Tiger’s drop, the Committee in essence shouldered part of the blame for not flagging Tiger’s bad drop in the first place in its initial review. That decision definitely sets new precedent. But it’s a sensible enough precedent to avoid the harsh result of player disqualification in one of the most important tournaments of the year. Let the players’ play, with any penalties, decide the winner. (It also may be time to revisit the disqualification rule in the first place. Giving players the ability to take penalties after they signed their scorecards but before the next round starts (or perhaps even before the tournament is over) may be a better approach for the tour to handle these situations unless the player knowingly concealed the infraction when it occurred.)

If Tiger Woods wins the Masters today, we believe there will be no “asterisk” next to his victory. He will have won the tournament, his 15th major, fair and square, under the ruling of the Rules Committee. He suffered a 2-shot penalty for any advantage he gained by dropping the ball 2 yards behind his divot. The score gave him a triple bogey for the hole–which he probably would have birdied had the ball not hit the flag stick. So the bad bounce and then bad drop on 15 probably cost Tiger Woods 4 shots. Without those 4 shots, Tiger would be tied for the lead on Sunday. The 2-shot penalty, in other words, is a substantial penalty. Tiger will have to overcome the penalty today if he wants to win the Masters. It’s true, Tiger benefited from a generous or lenient ruling by the Rules Committee, which clearly would have been within its power to disqualify Tiger. But we shouldn’t hold it against Tiger for any objection we have with the Rules Committee and its interpretation of “exceptional” circumstances or its decision to exercise discretion in waiving disqualification (something it rarely does). In the end, it’s a far better to let the tournament be decided by the players’ play, not a disqualification. Play on.


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