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Blame the rules committee, not Tiger

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Moving Day at Augusta began with a bang on Saturday as news broke about Tiger Woods being assessed a two-shot penalty for an incorrect drop on No. 15 Friday after his ball struck the flagstick and spun backward into the water.

The unfortunate shot unleashed an explosion of opinion and controversy that resulted in the Masters rules committee making the correct decision not to disqualify Tiger from competition.

Keep in mind that it does not come down to whether Tiger broke a rule or not — he certainly did, and he has admitted it. It is simply the series of events and decisions made by the committee that would have made it unfair to Tiger for him to be disqualified.

So let’s start at the beginning:

Being a water hazard (not lateral) Tiger had four options he could exercise under Rule 26-1:

  1. Play the ball as it lies, which was not possible because it was submerged in water.
  2. Take a one-shot penalty and drop his ball in the drop zone at the left side of the fairway toward the grandstand.
  3. Drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped.
  4. Proceed under the stroke and distance provision of Rule 27-1 by playing a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played.

Tiger attempted to exercise the fourth option and drop where he hit the prior shot from. At the time, it seemed as though Tiger had proceeded correctly. Between the time that he dropped his ball and the end of his round, the Masters rules committee received a call from a viewer prompting it to reexamine how Tiger proceeded at No. 15. At that time, the committee ruled that Tiger had proceeded correctly, and no penalty was issued.

Many are wondering where the rules official was during all of this. Surely the world’s No. 1 player must have an official with him at all times, right? Yes, pretty much. However, it is the responsibility of the player to call the official in to assist with procedural questions. Rules officials are essential silent observers unless called upon for a ruling, or they can prevent a rules infraction.

So why didn’t the official step in this time?

Since we never saw the official with Tiger short of the pond on No. 15, we can’t be sure. But I have to believe he was up near the green or drop area. From the perspective of the official some 85-plus yards away, those two yards back that Tiger dropped his ball had to look very near to the original spot where he hit from. Therefore there was no reason for him to step in.

In an interview after his round, Tiger stated that he purposely dropped his ball about two yards behind where he hit his original ball from, not knowing he had broken a Rule 26-1. Upon seeing the interview, the committee believed that the ruling warranted further discussion, and they asked Tiger to meet Saturday morning. It was during this meeting that it was deemed that Tiger had not proceeded correctly, and had played his ball from a wrong location.

Playing a ball from an incorrect location in stroke play competition is a two-stroke penalty. However, in Tiger’s case he had already signed his scorecard for a 71. Signing for an incorrect score in stroke play competition will usually result in a disqualification. So why was Tiger not disqualified?

Under Rule 33-7, “A penalty of disqualification may in exceptional individual cases be waived, modified or imposed if the Committee considers such action warranted.” To some, this rule might make it seem like the committee made an exception in Tiger’s case in order to keep the most exciting player in golf in the field for the weekend.

It did not.

Before Tiger finished his round on Friday, the committee had already reviewed what happened on No. 15 and ruled no penalty. Since the committee initially ruled that there was not penalty and thus facilitated the player into signing for an incorrect score, they enacted Rule 33-7 and waived the penalty of disqualification.

Yes, it is the player’s responsibility to know and follow the rules as best he can. However, it would not have been fair to Tiger for the committee to disqualify him from competition.

It was the committee who ruled initially that there should not be a penalty issued. It was the committee who didn’t say anything before Tiger signed for his 71. And it was the committee who reversed its decision and assessed a penalty.

Tiger simply did exactly what the committee instructed him to do. He proceeded under the rules to the best of his knowledge, did not intentionally breach Rule 26-1, and wasn’t told of a possible infraction before he signed his card because the committee had already decided that no penalty was warranted at the time

I fully expect him to continue his exceptional play and make a run at the green jacket. And if Tiger goes on to win The Masters, it will go down as possibly the greatest win of his career.

Click here to read five reasons why Tiger should have withdraw from the Masters this weekend.

 

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Grant Shafranski is the Program Director for the First Tee of Minneapolis and Head Teaching Professional at Hiawatha Golf Club in Minneapolis, MN. He is a Level 2 PGA Apprentice following a successful amateur career where he played collegiately at Division III University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN).

59 Comments

59 Comments

  1. Dino

    Apr 17, 2013 at 10:16 am

    this is wrong. the committee does not nor has to remind players of thier penalties for breaching a rule or of any shot resulting in a penalty stroke prior to handing in thier cards. That is not thier job. Had they noted from the begining that Tigers drop was illegal they do not have to tell him prior to card signing. He simply would have been disqualified for handing in the wrong card. And wether or not Tiger knew the rule or not also does not matter. It is is his 100% resonsibility to know the rules and to play by them. This is not the same as what happened to P. Harrington becaues he did not know his ball moved but he still played by the rules. There is a big difference. Tiger (ignorant or not of the rule) did not play by the rules. They cannot dismiss the disqualification if they are going to penalize him for the play. They must do both or do nothing at all and say we missed it an its too late, its over. They should not acknowledge the penalty without acknowledging the wrong card. This notion that they missed it at first is not an excuse to excuse the disqualificatiopn because they do not have to discuss it with tiger prior to card signing anyway. That is not what they do. If a player hit a ball into water and hands in a card without penalty stroke he is disqualified. Its the same thing. They do not remind or tell players prior to signing who lost a ball in the woods or hit into water or whatever that they must add those strokes. They simply check the card against such and if it is wrong they are disqualified. They cant simply dismiss one and not the other because they go hand in hand. And cant dismiss it simply because they missed it. they should iether accpet it all and say they screwed up and its too late or penalize for both. Thats the only two ways which they should handle it. As said, totaly different from Harrington because he didnt know the ball moved or if a player double hits and doesnt know it. Harrington or other players in such situation still played by the rules. Tiger did not play by the rules and not knowing the rules is never an escuse. Whats to stop players from now doing things and pleating they didnt know the rule? they are using the right to waive for the wrong reason and unfairly applying it. They should have said. he handed in his card, we accepted his card and we screwed up so its over thats the breaks. But to acknowledge the penalty later on and also assess it as such they must also assess the disqualification. They cannot use the excuse they missed it for one penalty and not the other. They iether missed both which they did and decide to penalize for both or they should have done nothingdo nothing. There is no such thing to warrant an inbetween. It did not have to be discussed with tiger at all had they cought it earlier so thier notion that thats thier fault does not fly. If thats the case then penalize him for nothing. But shoulodnt do one without the other.

  2. Gene

    Apr 15, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Tiger and the Masters lost their integrity. There is no way they DQ Tiger because they lose their tv ratings. Any other player in field would have have been DQ. And dont tell me Tiger doesnt know the rules. He would cheat to win another major and he just proved it and the Masters proved they are willing to over look the rules and give preferential treatment to Tiger Woods.

    • Steve

      Apr 16, 2013 at 1:06 pm

      Lol. If he was cheating on purpose, he wouldn’t be stupid enough to admit it later. Especially after the rules committee watched the video and said nothing was wrong with the drop. If he actually was a cheater, he would have gone forward without saying anything and not get punished at all.

  3. Ty

    Apr 15, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    so, the third option for a drop from this type of hazard is:

    3.Drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped.

    Tiger’s drop was behind the hazard, the poing at which the ball crossed the hazard was between the hole and his drop point, and he droped the ball farther back from the original shot. The rules state that there is NO distant limit to how far back you can play your drop. So if anything I think Tiger is guilty of confusion between the 3rd and 4th option allowed by the rules.

  4. Ty

    Apr 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    This one falls on the Rules Committee. After the caller notified them of the potential infraction, they should have not only reviewed the tape themselves but also notified Tiger in the scorer’s tent before he signed his card. Had they done this, Tiger would have admitted his mistake, signed for the correct score and all of this would be a non-issue.

  5. Clark

    Apr 15, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Maybe Tiger should be able to see instant replay from last shot. Haha

  6. Joe C.

    Apr 14, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Kind of late to be jumping into the Tiger Wood’s controversy but …… When Tiger signed his score card, wasn’t it an incorrect score card? Does the fact that he did not asses himself a penalty mean that his score was correct on the card? This is where I am confused.

    • TWShoot67

      Apr 14, 2013 at 8:06 pm

      At the time Tiger signed the scorecard NO. No one who was at the event said anything about it before he signed his card. When a rules official (and its their job) thinks there’s a rule infraction he will in fact talk to the player ie…. just like they talked to the 14 year old Tianlang Guan after they clocked him for slow play. When they it got brought up about Tiger possibly braking a rule they said he didn’t that it looked like the drop was proper. No one really knows how far he actually dropped the ball until an interview with tiger where he stated it was 2 yards longer shot. well when I watched him drop and seen the replay it didn’t look 2 yards but that what he said he did. The rule as been explained over and over but the Tiger haters or so called PGA pro’s who say the older pro’s like JACK would have just DQ themselves. Tiger has been cheating for years, thats why he has the wins he has…. pure cheater.

      • char005

        Apr 15, 2013 at 11:17 am

        name one other instance. this should thread should just be i like tiger or i hate tiger.

  7. Bob S

    Apr 14, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Well….at least they have an official w/Snedeker and Cabrera when they needed ’em…..

  8. Alex

    Apr 14, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Trying to argue that a pro should know all the rules is like saying that a business owner should be familiar with the legion of laws and practices regarding taxes, statues, etc. I’m never going to buy that one.

    Sorry, but it’s easy to “remember” everything at home watching on TV.

  9. oilfield7550

    Apr 14, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Hmmm…seems as though the Masters rules committee called Eric Holder before rendering their decision.

  10. Brian

    Apr 14, 2013 at 10:49 am

    If the rules of golf intended for someone to be DQ’d for failing to execute a proper drop, they would not have the rule imposing a strict 2-stroke penalty! If Tiger intentionally violated the rule (i.e., cheated), there would be grounds to DQ him. The evidence does not suggest this as he voluntarily explained the improper drop. As a result, the evidence suggests that he had no knowledge of the error until after he signed his card. While this would have resulted in immediate DQ in the past, that has changed with the new rule. The conspiracy theorists are nuts if they believe this rule was created for Tiger, as will be shown in time as others reap the benefit of the new rule.

  11. JeffMac

    Apr 14, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Grant has quoted the rules correctly, but some others in this discussion have not. The rules do NOT state that a player is to “drop” his ball as near as possible to where the previous stroke was made. He is to “play” his ball as nearly as possible from where the previous stroke was made.

    If a player was allowed to place his ball, obviously he could place it in the exact spot where the prior stroke was made (in this case, the divot left behind). But you can’t place – you are required to drop the ball.

    I believe Tiger was on a down slope, and so it would make sense to me that a player would drop his ball some distance behind where the original stroke was made, so that if it rolled towards the hole, it has a chance of not rolling nearer the hole then where prior stroke was made (which would require a re-drop).

    In addition, the ball cannot roll more then 2 club lengths (2 yards?) from where it first hits the ground. So it makes sense to me that dropping 2 club lengths behind, when on a downslope, is your best chance to have your first drop be a legal drop and have the ball in play without having to re-drop.

    I think Tiger knows the rules, and the above is what was going through his mind when dropping. True, he may have been hoping the ball did not roll, or did not roll much, so he could play from a slightly further distance then previous. And sharing that thought process was his downfall that caused the penalty.

    It almost seems like he should have tried to drop his ball into his divot, and if he missed the divot, or if the ball rolled or bounced out of the divot, then re-drop. If it happens again, then place the ball in the divot.

    That is the only way to indisputably play your stroke from as near as possible to where prior stroke was played.

    Anything else is subjective.

  12. Larry

    Apr 14, 2013 at 9:44 am

    No,No,NoThe rules committtee knew exactly what happened. They tried to ignore it until ESPN told them about the interview. Then they had no choice. Tiger knew the rules and he thinks he is above them. He knows they all want him there to bring in the ratings but once there was no way out they had to work something out. All the other golfers and critics who called for Tiger to withdraw knows what was going on. Anyway you are right about one thing you can’t blame Tiger because the media has made him believe that he is above everyone and should not have to account for his actions on or off the golf course.

    • jake

      Apr 14, 2013 at 10:48 am

      Larry I am inclined to agree with you. I think that is exactly what happened. This isnt the first tine he has taken a funny drop. As someone who has played professionally I can tell you it does not sit well with other professionals when stuff like this happens, the worst thing you can have as a professional is to have a cloud of “gray” attached to your name.

      • Woodie

        Apr 14, 2013 at 12:26 pm

        Once there was this nice drop of a parking lot… which was out of bounds till then 😉

  13. Jack

    Apr 14, 2013 at 3:20 am

    This really changes everything. I don’t like how they can go back and change what was approved and signed for in the name of making it right. To me there were many opportunities to make it right, but that time had passed.

  14. sam

    Apr 14, 2013 at 12:40 am

    Rule requires you drop at spot as near as possible to prior spot. He knew he didn’t do that when he admitted he took it back two yards to a more favorable spot to hit his next shot. Rule does not provide you can take it as far back as you want. Committee or no committee it is a game of honor and if the committee didn’t dq him he had the moral obligation to withdraw. Aside from having a rules official with each group they should probably let players have their lawyers with them.

  15. J

    Apr 13, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    Yet again, people making comments without the skill most kindergarten children posess.

    READ THE ARTICLE

    Tiger was told, by the rules committee, that his drop was legal.

    Read it.

    The rules committee changed its mind.

    Read it.

    They assessed him a penalty as described in the rules and proceeded to follow the rules even farther by not DQ’ing him but waiving the DQ because… Now get ready… Here it comes… The reading part…

    They told him his drop was correct. They changed their mind. They waived the DQ.

    READ before you comment. You look stupid when you speak from a point of emotion, with some sort of weird, obsessive dislike of someone you’ve never met or interacted with, rather than speaking from a point of educated information and the benefit of all the information available. And… Here’s the best part..

    Augusta… The Masters… It’s an invitational. They make the rules. It’s their Tournament… They can say everyone uses pink balls and croquet mallets for putters… The PGA Tour rules… The USGA.. The R&A.. All of their rules…ALL OF THEM… Are irrelevant. Augusta makes em…breaks em…enforces em… All of you crying foul because of the rules are speaking from a point of ignorance. The rules are what AGNC says they are… They spoke. SU.

  16. Greg DeLaney

    Apr 13, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    For the signing the incorrect scorecard argument: Tiger didn’t knowingly sign a wrong scorecard, and when it was signed, the rules committee had determined it was the right scorecard. So Tiger obviously didn’t knowingly sign a wrong card. After the interview it was determined he broke the rule, he admitted he did this after the rule was further explained to him, and he was assessed the 2 stroke penalty, as the new rule states. Everything was followed by the book. Any other player would get the same treatment. This wouldn’t happen to any other player tho, because every single shot of Tiger’s is on TV therefore he probably follows the rules by the book more than any other golfer out there because he was more closely watched.

  17. Greg DeLaney

    Apr 13, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Nicely put Grant! Who on here really believes he should have been DQ’ed? He obviously didn’t know the rule, or at least the full rule, but within 5 feet is close enough anyways. And he hit the pin on the shot he was retaking anyways. Y’all that think he should have been DQ’ed are haters. Committee made the mistake, not Tiger. If anything Tiger should be commended for tattling on himself and taking the 2 stroke penalty. If he doesn’t say anything, all this is mute. 2 stroke penalty was more than fair. Hope he can make a nice run tomorrow. And anybody would get this treatment, but I don’t think any other golfer has enough haters who look up a rule such as this in the rule book and takes the time to call it in. LOL get a life. Probably one of you haters on here hating on Grant.

    • jake

      Apr 13, 2013 at 11:52 pm

      There is no “close enough anyways”…..he broke a rule.

  18. Jeff

    Apr 13, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    I find it interesting that ALL of this hand-wringing about who-knew-what-when began LONG AFTER the fact. None of his playing partners or caddie said, “Hey, wait a minute” either as he dropped or after the shot. None of the announcers calling the play-by-play at the time recognized a problem. None of the folks watching with me noticed it. And most important, none of the officials, until notified by fans watching TV (something I’m not fond of, by the way.) So now all of a sudden everyone is an expert on what happened and what Tiger should do or should have done. If he was trying to cheat, I’m pretty sure he’s smart enough not to yap to the press about how he tried to illegally gain an advantage. I see it as an honest mistake that in retrospect makes US ALL look a little foolish, most of all Mr. Woods, but one that has been ruled on and…play on, Tiger.

  19. Don

    Apr 13, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    This ruling is comical….Anyone defending not DQing tiger is either 1)a huge fan of tiger (so I understand) 2)doesn’t believe in DQs for
    sometimes lame golf rules which can be understandable, see Dustin Johnson at the PGA or 3)can’t understand the rules (or is a CBS tv exec).

    The rule is pretty simple, especially when you read the examples. Basically the rules are set up to protect someone from DQ when he doesnt REASONABLY know that he DID SOMETHING that caused him to break the rules. It does not matter if he knew he broke the rules or not, only if he knows that he did the act (which is prohibited).

    So in this case, if there were a bunch of divot marks around the area he hit from, and he dropped next to a divot where he thought he hit from previously, he would be saved. However, misinterpreting a rule is not a defense….

    • Greg DeLaney

      Apr 13, 2013 at 11:01 pm

      it was pretty reasonable that he misinterpreted the rules since he tattled on himself in his own after round interview there Elin. So by the rules he didn’t have to be DQ’ed just like the rule was put in place for. It’s too protect the players

    • J

      Apr 13, 2013 at 11:19 pm

      He didn’t break the rules. ANGC spoke. It’s their tournament… How is it absolutely so few of the people posting comments fail to understand the basic facts…

      Augusta makes the rules. It’s an invitational.

      They make the rules. ALL of the other rules are subject to…. Ready for it…. Wait for it…. Wait for it….

      LOCAL RULES.

      You don’t like it… Fine. But the rules were enforced the way AGNC wanted them enforced. Which means… Here it comes again….ready….

      LOCAL RULES supercede those of the PGA… The R&A… The USGA… Their rules stop at the gate.

      • jake

        Apr 13, 2013 at 11:45 pm

        Local rules do not supercede USGA rules they have to be formed with USGA approval. Rule 33-8

        • J

          Apr 14, 2013 at 2:16 am

          Wrong.

          It’s an Invitatinal. The USGA has no authority over an Invitational tournament. Period.

      • TWShoot67

        Apr 14, 2013 at 6:19 pm

        Thank you , explain that to Woodie a PGA professional.

        • Woodie

          Apr 15, 2013 at 4:31 am

          Thanks TWshoot. Everything is said, I will not reply any further here. Guys like you are not seeing the facts, but ok. Play what you like, it is not Golf.

    • Metrybill

      Apr 20, 2013 at 7:42 pm

      misinterpreting a rule is not a defense.

      EXACTLY.

  20. jake

    Apr 13, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    What I can’t believe is that the rules committee, after reviewing, ruled that what he did was ok! Mind you they had a forner USGA President and Mark Russell, a well respected official that has officiated on the PGA Tour for years. Forget all the other stuff that happened after… That where it starts getting funky for me.

  21. Troy Vayanos

    Apr 13, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Well said Grant,

    The rules committee need to take full responsibility for what happened. Tiger was doing as he was told and has every right to continue playing.

    If he goes on to win, hopefully this incident will not overshadow his victory.

  22. Steve

    Apr 13, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    I wish I could call the NBA and tell them that LeBron didn’t actually get fouled, it was a flop, so he shouldn’t get free throws.

    • Marc

      Apr 13, 2013 at 9:23 pm

      I think this is getting ridiculous about having people call, tweet, or whatever to the officials and then have them change their decision. The official needs to make the call, then you live with the result. I agree that Tiger should have been DQ’d, but all sports have officials that make bad decisions. We complain, and say “what if” – but the fact is, it’s getting to the point where the rules are being enforced differently based upon input from the TV audience. This is pretty ridiculous IMHO. What’s next? Are they going to start posting a phone number or email address at the bottom of the TV screen for us to send in our rules alerts and just make it part of the game?

  23. Ty Woodruff

    Apr 13, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    I’ve never attended a Rules seminar, but even I know dropping 6 ft from the original position isn’t “as near as possible”. Wondering if the original ruling isn’t the one that should come into question as favoritism. Committee should have assessed a penalty to begin with…before Tigger signed his card.

  24. nick baker

    Apr 13, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Agree up to a point, and that point is the news conference, when TW stated that he dropped at a different location for benefit. This statement undermines the logic of the Rules Cte. Unless TW or the Rules Cte has good reason to believe that TW mis-spoke in his news conference, it is DQ in my opinion. Without the news conference the Rules Cte is entitled to make their own determination, but not when TW is on tape saying this.

  25. Kenneth Atkin

    Apr 13, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    I want to add that I feel it is sad that the new rule is being used to justify a player violating the rules (admittedly) and then signing an incorrect scorecard (admittedly) and being allowed to play for the green jacket. This is not what the new rule was aimed at. This is much different than a ball moving an 1/8th of an inch without the player knowing. Tiger SHOULD have known he violated a rule. Plain and simple.

    • Andrew Sellitti

      Apr 13, 2013 at 9:23 pm

      That is my point as well. The spirit of this rule change was to protect players where they couldn’t protect themselves. Ignorance of the most basic rules is not a situation of a player not being able to protect themselves. The application of the rule sets a dangerous precedent going forward. The game of golf on the pro level will move further away from a self policing game of integrity and now into a sport where officials manage all the rules.

    • Bern

      Apr 13, 2013 at 10:22 pm

      The scorecard was in fact not incorrect when Tiger signed it. It was not incorrect until the committee decided that drop was improper. Nobody on the course seemed to think the drop was improper when Tiger made it. The commentators said nothing. The rules folks said nothing. The other players said nothing and Tiger thought he had taken a proper drop. This is nothing but that same old mess from the same tired voices that have found fault with Tiger from day one. The same kind of folks who called in threats on his life in 1997. Same folks. Same agenda. The committee made its ruling and that should be it. Move on.

  26. Brent Ashcroft

    Apr 13, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    I do blame the rules committee as well as Tiger Woods. If any other player would have been caught trying to give them selves an advantage they would have been dq’d. Everything in golf is not about tiger and you people need to realize he’s not God.

    • Blanco

      Apr 13, 2013 at 6:57 pm

      Nobody thinks he’s God dude. Just a mortal human being on the path to total knowledge of self– he’s also a phenomenal golfer– probably the best there ever was. This social media thing is getting more and more manic depressive every day. Journalism and enlightened discussion is long dead.

  27. Kenneth Atkin

    Apr 13, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    So is the Committee now going to keep score? Why even have players sign their cards in this day and age? Just one more reason that professional golf and recreational golf have nothing in common.

  28. Mikko U

    Apr 13, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    So why is it ok not to know even the most basic rules of golf and break them?

    Tiger made a mistake (or cheated), then the committee makes an uninformed decision, Tiger reveals his mistake to the media, the committee doesn’t hand out the required penalty of disqualification.

    Or how does a basic water hazard rule become something professional players shouldn’t or needn’t be aware of?

    • Woodie

      Apr 13, 2013 at 6:58 pm

      Right, Mikko!
      Sorry Grant, but as a Professional you should know better!
      “He proceeded under the rules to the best of his knowledge,…”
      Tiger did not know one of the easiest rules in golf, come on! He signed a wrong scorecard. It doesn’t matter what the guys from the rules comittee recognized or did not recognize. Any player is responsible for playing under the same rules as any other player in the tournament.

      • Grant Shafranski

        Apr 13, 2013 at 10:14 pm

        Thank you for the comment Woodie. I absolutely agree that Tiger should know the rule, and I’m sure that he does. Keep in mind that knowing the rules and proceeding under them are two completely different things, however. The most difficult thing about the Rules of Golf is interpreting their meaning.

        I believe that Tiger was flustered at the time he took the drop, and did not think about the point at which his ball LAST crossed the margin (opposite side). I think he was only thinking about when his ball first crossed, and went back on a line with THAT point between himself and the hole. Therefore, in his mind he was proceeding correctly, and not intentionally breaking any rules.

        At the club level, the golf professional often times is the “committee” and we cannot expect every participant in the field to know every rule. The same goes at the professional level, you would be surprised how many tour pros struggle with the rules, even though they are playing the game for a living.

        Had Tiger said in his interview that he was knowling breaking Rule 26-1 when he dropped his ball, it would be a completely different story. It would then become a possible serious breach, for which the committee could decide to DQ him for. But as the committee, all we can do it trust that the player is telling the truth, just as the Masters committee has to believe Tiger when he says that he thought he was proceeding correctly.

        • MLamar

          Apr 14, 2013 at 10:53 pm

          Great Post … People need to take their emotions out of the situation and review the facts … As I’ve played in my Club Chmps – we have a committee – if there’s a question about a ruling – we play on – right the score and the committee will discuss/review with us when we get into the club house – Penalty will be assessed or not … The rules AGNC committee initially deemed no foul and later reviewed & assessed a 2stroke penalty – PLAY ON !!!

          Betcha dimes/donuts – I don’t think everyone (even tour players) know all the rules. ie They’re open for interpretation.

        • Metrybill

          Apr 20, 2013 at 7:41 pm

          I like the article, but …

          Ignorance of the law (rules) is no excuse. I do not care that he was “flustered.” So what? That is at best an explanation; but it is no excuse. There is no “fluster” exception to the rules. He violated a very, very basic rule. He had a caddie, too; which most of us cannot afford or claim. 4 eyes and 2 brains; not just 2 and 1. All the worse, he in fact admitted that he intentionally played from farther back than the rule permits. He did something that the rules committee did not know about! He had 4 options and he took none of them. Intent has no place in the rules for a proper drop. You either dropped the ball correctly or you did not. He didn’t get an official ruling during the round, only afterwards and even then not one generated by him or by a committee with full knowledge of the facts.

          btw, and importantly, there was a rules official available and TW did not take advantage of that. All he had to to was to ask, “Can I do this? (or) Is this OK?” In a club tournament he gets d’q’d.

          Another option: in case of doubt under the rules he could have played a 2nd ball.

          Golf is not a regular ball-sport. Golfers are self-regulating. Officials do not throw flags during the round. Golf officials are not active, flag-throwing officials. {Still I do not get that the rules official did not “check out” the drop to protect the field. If he/she had this affirmative duty, this might not have come up. Now, if rules officials had that “duty,” I would have a different opinion.}

          Full disclosure: Clearly, Tiger is one of the very best ever. I am not a Tiger fan but I don’t hate him or wish him failure. Tiger has benefited from the lack of a full field of future Hall-of-Famers in his era, except for Mickeleson and Els. If I could get a bet on Tiger v. Tom Watson, 1-shot a side, I would take Watson. (I know; ridiculous but that is how I feel about it.) Tiger has never come from even 1-shot behind to win a major. IMO, that is a serious hole in his resume’ when compared to others.

          Tiger is about Tiger and no one else. He is known to be smart and analytical. I am sympathetic but not to the point that the rules are compromised. I do think this was favoritism; maybe not intentionally so, but as applied.

          Tiger is without a doubt the best round 1 -3 player ever. As a 4th round player, who absolutely WILL be and deserves to be a hall-of-famer, as a 4th round player he will probably go down as one of the most mediocre of them all. That will be the hole in his resume’.

          btw, again. Most of us play without “drop-zones.” Pros are privileged with the best of everything when they play.

          Looking forward to the comments and prove me wrong. Is there some context that I am missing?

          Metrybill

      • Greg DeLaney

        Apr 13, 2013 at 10:53 pm

        You keep talking about playing by the rules but Tiger followed the rules set forth by the governing body of golf. Stop being a hypocrite. The game of golf changed this rule. Grant is a professional and does know better you stupid idiot

        • Woodie

          Apr 14, 2013 at 6:03 am

          Oh Greg, are we getting personal? I won’t jump on your verbal abuse…
          I am a PGA Professional too and I know what I talk about! Signing a wrong scorecard is a DQ, period.
          Tiger should have amditted that he made a mistake and pull out of the Masters. And I am no Tiger hater…

        • Mikko U

          Apr 14, 2013 at 9:13 am

          I’m sorry but he did not follow the rules set forth by the governing body of golf. He himself said he went back a couple of yards to drop the ball (thus he knew where he shot his original shot) and that is not dropping as near as possible.

  29. Ronald Montesano

    Apr 13, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Nicely put, Grant. While I believe that my take is the correct one, and that the Competition Committee enabled Tiger in a way that they would no other player, I applaud your research and your formulation of your argument.

    • TWShoot67

      Apr 14, 2013 at 6:14 pm

      There is no argument. they are the facts Ronald. Tiger followed the rules of golf plain and simple. he didn’t need to withdraw because haters want him to, if in fact he did he would do the rules an injustice. When Tiger dropped he didn’t think he was gaining any advantage. if he wanted to cheat he would cheat but since he has 77 wins and 14 majors Tiger doesn’t need to cheat. He’s the greatest golfer of our time and maybe of all time.

    • John

      Apr 14, 2013 at 11:16 pm

      Well he didn’t end up winning. Well Done Adam Scott

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Opinion & Analysis

“I Love You, Tiger!” At Big Cedar lodge, an outpouring of affection for Tiger Woods

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What a difference a year makes.

About one year ago, Tiger Woods was in Branson, Missouri at Big Cedar Lodge to announce that he was designing a golf course there; Payne’s Valley, his first public course. That day was attended by hundreds of national and local media, the Lieutenant Governor of Missouri and Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops owner and the visionary behind the amazing golf complex that has been established at Big Cedar Lodge.

That day, Woods had not played competitive golf for awhile, and he was recovering from multiple surgeries. Woods took a couple of ceremonial swings, the last of which clearly left him in physical distress. Days later, he was in surgery again and his playing career looked to be all but over. The situation became worse when Woods was arrested for driving under the influence, found with multiple substances in his system. It seemed as though the sad mug shots from that arrest might be as prominent in his legacy as the smiles and fist-pumps that accompanied his 79 wins and 14 major championships.

Fast forward to yesterday, where Woods was back in Missouri to do a Junior Clinic at Big Cedar. An estimated crowd of over 7,000 kids and parents showed up on a school day to catch a glimpse of Woods. The atmosphere was carnival-like, with sky divers, stunt planes making flyovers and rock music blaring from giant speakers. When Woods finally arrived, the reaction was electric. Mothers and their kids were chanting. “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!” at the top of their lungs. Photographers battled soccer moms for position to get a picture of his swing. Some of the kids were as young as 6-years-old, which means that they had probably not seen Woods hit a meaningful shot in their life. At one point, when Woods was hitting shots and explaining how to execute them, a woman shouted, “I love you, Tiger!” Not to be out done, a woman on the other side of the crowd, who was their with her husband and kids, shouted “I love you more, Tiger!” Maybe the only people with more affection for Woods would be the people in the golf business. A senior marketing official in the golf industry leaned over at one point in the event and said, “God, we could use just one more from him.”

Woods swing looks completely rehabilitated. He was hitting shots of every shape and trajectory on-demand, and the driver was sending balls well past the end of the makeshift driving range set up for the event. But even more remarkable was the evidence of the recovery of his reputation. Surely there are still women out there that revile Woods for the revelations of infidelity, and no doubt there are those that still reject Woods for his legal and personal struggles. But none of them were in Missouri yesterday. Mothers and children shrieking his name confirmed what we already knew: Tiger Woods is the single most compelling person in American sports, and he belongs to golf.

Unlike a year ago, Woods is swinging well, and seems as healthy and happy as he as ever been as a pro. Add to that the unprecedented outpouring of love from crowds that once produced a combination of awe and respect, but never love. Fowler, McIlroy, Spieth and the rest may get their share of wins and Tweets, but if the game is to really grow it will be on the broad, fragile back of Tiger Woods. It’s amazing to think what can happen in one short year.

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Opinion & Analysis

12 reasons serious golfers don’t realize their potential

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What stops serious golfers from realizing their potential? If you are an amateur who wants to get better, a young player trying to achieve more, or a young professional with big dreams, this article is for you.

I’ve made a career out of helping athletes maximize their abilities, golfers in particular. And the things I see young playing professionals doing prior to our work together is often what is holding them back. The reality is that most young players, no matter what their level, have three key problems:

  1. They’re distracted by what’s not important
  2. They have no detailed structure and plan to reach the targets they determine are important to them
  3. They have no formal process to develop mindset and attitude

In the list below, I share what I see working with these young players and some common blind spots.

1. No real plan and steps to achieve targets

Most players do not know how to create a long-term and short-term plan that outlines all steps needed to reach targets. Players should have yearly plans with targets, steps and actions and weekly plans to organize/schedule their time and prioritize key needs.

2. Not focused enough on the object of the game

This goes hand in hand with No. 1. Surprisingly, players seem to forget that the object of the game is get the ball in the hole in the least amount of strokes. Trophies and checks are not issued for the best swing, the best putting stroke or most balls hit.

3. Not enough pressure in practice

Most young players have loose practice. The intensity of feelings between the practice tee and the course are too different. Focus and intensity must be a part of all practice. Add competition and outcomes to sessions so some urgency is created.

4. Too much practice time on full swing

The data is clear — most shots in golf happen from 100 yards and in from the green. If the majority of practice time is not spent on these shorter shots, practice time is wasted.

5. An obsession with the look of the swing

Players are not generally prepared to own their own swings and embrace the differences that make them unique. Obsessing over swing mechanics is a major distraction for many players. Many players convince themselves that if it doesn’t look “good” on their iPhone, their swing won’t get results.

6. No structure with the driver

Since scoring is the main goal, a consistent, reliable shape to each shot is important. My experience has been that if players are trying to go both ways with the driver, that is a sure-fire way to elevate numbers on the card. Pick a shape and eliminate one side of the course. Predictability from the tee increases a player’s confidence to put the ball in the fairway more often, creating more opportunities to score.

7. Expectation that they will hit the ball well everyday

Many players have the unreasonable expectation that they will hit lots of fairways and greens every time they play. This expectation leads to constant disappointment in their game. Knowing that the leading professionals in the game average about 60.6 percent driving accuracy and 11.8 greens in regulation per round should be a good benchmark for the expectations of all players.

8. Trying to be too robotic and precise in putting

Some players get so caught up in the mechanics of putting that their approach becomes too robotic. They become obsessed with precision and being perfect. Feel, flow and instinct have to be a central part of putting. This can get lost in an overly robotic mindset trying to be too precise and perfect.

9. No process for assessment and reflection

Players do not have a formal process for assessing practice or rounds and reflecting on the experience. The right lessons are not consistently taken away to ensure step-by-step improvement. Knowing how to assess practice, play and ask the right questions is key to development.

10. Getting in their own way

The voice inside of most young players’ heads is not helpful for their performance. It’s often a negative, demanding voice that insists on perfection. This voice leads to hesitation, frustration and anger. The voice must be shaped (with practice) into the right “emotional caddie” to support efforts and promote excellence over perfection.

11. A focus on the negative before the positive

A default to the mistakes/flaws in the round before looking at the highlights and what worked. When asked about their round, most players highlight three-putts, penalty shots and any errors before anything else. Emphasis should always be on what went well first. Refection on what needs improvement is second.

12. The blame game

Young players love excuses. Course conditions, weather, coaching and equipment are a few of the areas that are often targets, deflecting responsibility away from the player. Many players do not take full responsibility for their own game and/or careers.

I hope this provides some insights on roadblocks that could get in your way on the path to reaching your targets in the game. Whether it’s lowering your handicap, winning a junior tournament, working toward the PGA Tour — or just general improvement — considering these observations might help you shorten the road to get there.

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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: 2018 Valero Texas Open

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With one of the weakest fields of the year, TPC San Antonio hosts the Valero Texas Open this week. Only one player from the top-20 in the Official World Golf Rankings will tee it up here. That man is Sergio Garcia, who co-designed this course with Greg Norman.

Just like last week at the RBC Heritage, the wind can wreak havoc at TPC San Antonio. The course features an exposed layout, making the level of wind is often unpredictable. Expect it to be a factor yet again this year. Unlike last week, the longer hitters do have an advantage on this course, which measuring more than 7,400 yards with little rough off the tee.

Last year, Kevin Chappell held off a charging Brooks Koepka to post 12-under par and win his first title on the PGA Tour.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Sergio Garcia 14/1
  • Matt Kuchar 18/1
  • Charley Hoffman 18/1
  • Luke List 25/1
  • Ryan Moore 28/1
  • Kevin Chappell 28/1
  • Adam Scott 30/1

From the top of the market, it’s hard not to love Luke List (25/1, DK Price $10,000) this week. The big-hitting American is still looking for his first win on the PGA Tour, but he is knocking on the door relentlessly. In his last eight events, List has finished no worse than T-26.

He was so close once again last week, and he should take plenty of confidence from that performance onto a course that theoretically should suit him much better. On this long track, List will have a significant advantage as one of the longest hitters on Tour. Over his last 24 rounds, he ranks 5th in Strokes Gained-Off The Tee and 1st in Strokes Gained-Tee to Green. List is also flushing his irons. He was second in the field last week for Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green, and over his previous 24 rounds he sits 3rd in the same category.

It’s not only his long game that is highly proficient right now, either. List’s short game has been stellar over this impressive stretch, too. He ranks 8th for Strokes Gained-Around the Green and 28th for Strokes Gained-Short Game over his last 24 rounds.

The one department holding the big man back is his putting, where he ranks 145th for the season. The rest of his game is so sharp at the moment that he’s in the enviable position of not needing that hot a week with the flat-stick to win. He only needs an average week on the greens to finally break through and claim his first PGA Tour event. There’s nothing to suggest List isn’t going to play well once more this week, and at 25/1 he seems undervalued.

Returning to a track that he adores, Brendan Steele (33/1, DK Price $8,900) is always a danger at this event. As well as winning the title here in 2011, Steele has finished in the top-20 three times since then. Whatever it is about TPC San Antonio, it’s a course that brings out the best in Steele’s game.

It’s been an excellent season for the West Coast native, too. He won his opening event of the season at the Safeway Open and has since finished in the top-30 six times. One of the main reasons for his strong run of form has been his work with the driver. Steele is ranked 1st in Strokes Gained-Off The Tee over his last 24 rounds, and he has only failed to post a positive Strokes Gained statistic in this category once since this event last year.

Recently, Steele’s game is showing trends that he may once more be close to hitting the form that saw him win at the back end of last year. In his previous 24 rounds, the Californian is ranked 10th in Ball Striking and 7th in Strokes Gained-Total. Always a threat at this event, Steele is coming into this week with all parts of his game in sync. He should be a live threat once more in San Antonio.

Another man who has played well all year is Xander Schauffele (35/1, DK Price $8,800). The Californian has made seven of eight cuts this year, and he has finished in the top-25 in four of those occasions. Excellent off the tee, TPC San Antonio should suit the 24-year-old this week, too. Schaufelle ranks 7th in Strokes Gained-Off The Tee and 17th in Strokes Gained-Tee to Green over his last 24 rounds.

With wind likely to play a factor this week, pure ball striking will be necessary. That shouldn’t be an issue for Xander, who sits 7th in Strokes Gained-Ball Striking over his last 24 rounds. There is nothing off about Schauffele’s game right now. He ranks 21st in Strokes Gained-Putting over his previous 12 rounds and 5th in Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green over the same period. It’s only a matter of time before the two-time PGA Tour winner puts himself in the thick of contention again, and there’s no reason why it can’t be this week.

Recommended Plays

  • Luke List 25/1, DK Price $10,000
  • Brendan Steele 33/1, DK Price $8,900
  • Xander Schauffele 35/1, DK Price $8,800
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