Tiger not withdrawing better for Master’s

William Burns

The Master’s  Tournament is one of the greatest golf tournaments to be played and, every year, I find just as much drama and excitement as you could find in any primetime television show. It just drives me up the wall to hear people talk about how boring it can be.

This sport is a game that literally comes down to inches. One small tweak of the wrist or a tiny misjudgement of depth perception can result in a major difference of results.

This year’s tournament, which is played annually at the in Augusta, Ga. at the Augusta National Golf Club, found the same amount of excitement but with a twist of controversy. Tiger Woods earned a lot of attention after his third shot on the 15th hole during play on Friday, April 12 after his ball hit the flag and bounced into the water hazard. According to the rules, Woods was allowed to take a stroke and drop the ball where it was last shot and try again. Following the drop, Woods then landed his ball on the green and scored a bogey six.

When it comes to the drop that Woods had performed, the rule states that a player must drop the ball “as close as possible” to where the last shot was played. A television viewer called the officials and claimed that Woods’ drop was not as close as it could have been and forced the officials to take a look at it.

After reviewing the drop, officials deemed Woods’ drop was legal and play could continue.

Later on in the day, Fred Ridley, chairman of the competition committee and the man who deemed Woods’ drop legal, got a call at dinner from CBS, suggesting he listen to an interview in which Woods said he purposely took the drop two yards back to help his next shot. That would constitute intent to improve one’s lie, a major violation of the rules and situation that forced Ridley to asses Woods with a two stroke penalty.

Here’s where things became a little messy.

Woods already signed an incorrect scorecard, which in past years would have resulted in a zero-tolerance disqualification. This year, however, is different. A new rule, which had been installed two years ago, is now protecting golfers from becoming disqualified when unknowingly violating rules.

Many people were screaming for his ejection, claiming that a rule like that means people in charge can do what they want to bring the most advantageous outcome for the ratings. This would mean keeping Woods on the camera for as long as possible.

I believe that this rule is for the better of golf, so long as every golfer receives the same treatment under this new rule. There is not one argument I can even remotely start to believe that implies Woods, on national television, would cheat in the game. You can say what you want about his personal life, but golf is a game of honor and integrity. There is no way I, or anyone on that committee, honestly believes that Woods would cheat the rules so blatantly.

I don’t even need to go as far as Woods’ integrity for the game to make my point. Cheating in that particular situation would be as challenging as it would be illogical.

Woods is arguably the most popular athlete on the face of the planet, so he already knows that he is going to have a lot of supporters watching him as he makes his comeback in the golfing world.

On top of all that, he is playing on the most televised event in his sport. There was never a moment a camera wasn’t on him. So to think he could have intentionally violated the rule on his drop is ludacris. It was an honest mistake that Woods deserves to be protected from.

Even after the committee stuck with their decision to allow Woods to continue, many were saying Woods should voluntarily drop out of competition.

This is another situation that wouldn’t make much sense to me. I can’t imagine anyone in Woods’ situation who would consider dropping out. Woods was only three back from leader Jason Day. Who in their right mind would drop out when the rules clearly state you can continue play?

In the end, it wouldn’t work out for Woods as his putting game got classically cold and would end up tying for fourth place with Australian Marc Leishman.

Still, I believe Woods not withdrawing will benefit golfers in the future as they now have protection from making honest mistakes and this situation will make better golf tournaments for the fans.