Souhan: Masters and Woods both take the low road

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 13, 2013 - 11:48 PM

Perhaps the greatest golfer ever and the greatest golf tournament in existence should have held themselves to higher standards Saturday.

– Tiger Woods and the Masters should have been embarrassed on Saturday. Neither seems capable of that emotion.

Perhaps the greatest golfer ever and the greatest golf tournament in existence should have held themselves to higher standards.

The tournament should have recognized Woods’ rules violation during the second round, then should have intervened before Woods could sign his scorecard. Woods should have displayed a golfing form of honor by withdrawing when he realized he broke the rules while attempting to give himself a competitive advantage, even if his mistake was honest.

Instead, the Masters invoked a rule that shouldn’t necessarily apply to obvious mistakes like the one Woods made, to allow him to remain in the tournament with a two-shot penalty. By the end of Saturday, Woods stood four behind the lead, with a chance to win a tainted major.

“Under the rules of golf, I can play,” Woods said.

While the Masters and Woods adhered to the letter of the rules, the series of events made Augusta National smell about as bad as it does when the groundskeepers spread fertilizer to soak up a heavy rain, especially when the efforts to salvage Woods’ eligibility came one day after the tourney penalized a 14-year-old for slow play on a day filled with slow players.

Don’t take my word for it. Take it from one of golf’s most respected elders.

“I’m a pro now, since ’89,” said Ernie Els. “I’ve never seen a guy sign for a scorecard and then come back and play the next day after a rules infringement. It’s as simple as that. Nothing against nobody. The rules of the game is there, and it’s always been there, and this has never happened.”

Zach Johnson, who won the Masters in 2007, said: “Taking yourself out of the tournament is definitely an option. To formulate an opinion, I would like to understand what sequentially happened. I’d like to hope that any and all of my peers, if they knowingly or unknowingly violated the rules, would do what they feel is necessary to protect the field.”

What sequentially happened was this: Woods, playing the 15th hole on Friday, hit his third shot off the flagstick and into the water. When he dropped his ball for his next shot, he did not obey the rules that require him to drop as near as possible to his previous position. He dropped a couple of yards behind his previous divot, and on an incorrect line.

In most sports, he would have been excused or even commended for seeking an advantage. Golf is not like any other sport. Golfers pride themselves on calling penalties on themselves, and in golf ignorance of the rules is not an excuse. Woods could have called over a rules official but declined to.

He dropped his ball in a different place to gain an advantage on his next shot, and admitted that in a postround interview.

There are a dozen things wrong with this scenario and the way golf rules are applied. Tournament officials should have recognized Woods’ mistake before a television viewer called it in. Major championships should not be affected by phone calls. Golf’s rulebook is ridiculously long and impenetrable.

What matters is the spirit of the rules that govern a sport based on the honor code, and the spirit of the rules contends that if a player breaks a rule while seeking an advantage, he is disqualified. Saturday, the Masters let Woods off the hook and Woods accepted the charity.

If Woods wins on Sunday and winds up with 19 majors, breaking Jack Nickaus’ record, his achievement will deserve an asterisk.

“Disqualification, this morning, was not even on the table,” said Fred Ridley, the chairman of competition committee.

Friday afternoon, after signing his scorecard, Woods was asked about 14-year-old Guan Tianlang being penalized for slow play. Woods said, “Rules are rules.”

Saturday, Guan proved wiser than Woods or the Masters. Asked what he thought of Woods’ penalty, he said, “I think that rules are rules.”

Els wishes that were true.

Jim Souhan can been heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10-noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Video: Tiger Woods talks penalty, Round 3 play

    Saturday April 13, 2013

    Tiger Woods had an eventul Saturday at The Masters. Woods was assessed a two-stroke illegal drop penalty stemming from...

  • Photo gallery: Saturday at the Masters

    Saturday April 13, 2013

    Masters stunner: Tiger Woods gets 2-stroke penalty, but at least he gets to play on weekend

  • Cabrera, Snedeker tied for Masters lead but several are in contention

    Saturday April 13, 2013

    Brandt Snedeker and 2009 champion Angel Cabrera lead a pack of Aussies.

  • Tiger Woods watches his drive from the 15th tee box during third-round...

  • The scoreboard registered the impact of a two-stroke penalty assessed to Tiger Woods for a violation on the 15th hole during Friday’s second round.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 6:00 PM
Orlando
Charlotte 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Brooklyn 6:30 PM
Cleveland
Washington 6:30 PM
Miami
Minnesota 6:30 PM
Boston
Toronto 6:30 PM
Detroit
Chicago 7:00 PM
Memphis
Portland 7:00 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Denver
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Tampa Bay 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Anaheim 6:30 PM
Ottawa
NY Islanders 6:30 PM
Detroit
Boston 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Dallas 8:00 PM
Calgary
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 49 FINAL
Tulane 56
Siena 5:00 PM
Radford
Stillman 6:00 PM
Alabama
Case Western Reserve 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Niagara 6:00 PM
Buffalo
SD Christian 6:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Concordia (MI) 6:00 PM
Central Mich
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Dartmouth
North Florida 6:00 PM
Florida A&M
Hiwassee 6:00 PM
Gardner-Webb
Tennessee St 6:00 PM
Hampton
NC A&T 6:00 PM
Kent State
Central Penn College 6:00 PM
Liberty
Bethune-Cookman 6:00 PM
Mercer
Eastern Ky 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Morehead State
Northern Ariz 6:00 PM
Norfolk State
MD-Eastern Shore 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
St Johns
Clemson 6:00 PM
South Carolina
Tenn Tech 6:00 PM
Tennessee
Washington-MD 6:00 PM
William & Mary
Furman 6:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
South Dakota St 6:30 PM
CS-Bakersfield
Milligan 7:00 PM
Lamar
LSU-Alexandria 7:00 PM
ULM
Southern Utah 7:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
Chattanooga 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Seattle 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Lipscomb 7:00 PM
Princeton
Winthrop 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Dickinson State 7:00 PM
North Dakota
New Orleans 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
Creighton
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Denver
Alabama A&M 8:00 PM
Marquette
Ark-Pine Bluff 8:00 PM
Texas Tech
Eastern Wash 9:00 PM
California
Idaho State 9:05 PM
Utah State
Arizona 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 10:59 PM
Chaminade
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Alcorn State 57
Denver 63 FINAL
Wright State 72
Blue Mountain 30 FINAL
Central Arkansas 71
Texas State 33 2nd Half 7:00
Bethune-Cookman 26
Albany 25 2nd Half
Pepperdine 18
TX-San Antonio 23 2nd Half
Houston 27
Yale 6 1st Half 13:23
Bucknell 13
Northern Colorado 4 1st Half 12:35
Fla Gulf Coast 15
Belmont 4:00 PM
Mercer
Massachusetts 4:00 PM
Georgia State
George Mason 4:05 PM
Winthrop
Portland State 4:30 PM
Princeton
UCLA 5:00 PM
Samford
Mobile 5:00 PM
Alabama State
Nicholls 5:30 PM
Texas Tech
Toledo 5:30 PM
Nevada
UMass Lowell 5:30 PM
(13) Duke
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
Virginia
McNeese State 6:00 PM
Rice
McMurry 6:00 PM
Houston Baptist
NJIT 6:00 PM
Seton Hall
(6) North Carolina 6:00 PM
Maine
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
Siena 6:00 PM
Binghamton
Longwood 6:00 PM
Clemson
Savannah State 6:00 PM
Florida State
(19) Syracuse 6:00 PM
(9) Baylor
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Manhattan
Ohio U 6:00 PM
La Salle
Canisius 6:00 PM
Michigan
Davidson 6:00 PM
NC State
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Delaware
Saint Louis 6:30 PM
Austin Peay
(25) DePaul 6:30 PM
(2) Connecticut
Florida Atlantic 7:00 PM
Long Beach St
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Tulane
Miss Valley St 7:00 PM
Memphis
Ark-Pine Bluff 7:00 PM
UAB
Bowling Green 7:05 PM
Illinois State
Arkansas State 7:05 PM
Missouri State
ULM 7:05 PM
Wichita State
(16) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Southern Ill
Utah Valley U 8:30 PM
Montana
Pacific 9:00 PM
New Mexico St
No Dakota State 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Utah State 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
Bethesda (CA) 9:00 PM
Fresno State
LSU 9:30 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close