Here is a message I sent to a couple of golf writers who have been big supporters of the Masters Rules Committee in its decision not to disqualify Tiger Woods from the Masters – and who are similarly on board with today’s announcement by the USGA and the R & A Golf Club. I was commenting specifically upon the USGA/R&A announcement:
They did not put enough lipstick on this pig. Here is the essence of what they have said:
- The Committee concluded that its actions “created an exceptional individual case that unfairly led to the potential for disqualification.“ Translation, the Committee made a mistake (by making its 26-1 ruling that Woods violated the rule, and by making that ruling without first seeking information from Woods and informing of the intent to make that ruling), and the mistake led to Woods’s signing an incorrect card. In other words, the incorrect scorecard is not Woods’s fault or responsibility, it is the Committee’s fault. And thus Woods is to be exempt from a 33-7 DQ because his violation was someone else’s fault. The dog ate his homework. Good grief, do you people know what you are saying? I mean, it is not like Woods called over an official and the official told him it was OK, so he went ahead and hit the next shot; that situation is already addressed by an earlier decision. But that is not this case, not by a long shot.
- And by the way, said the two august organizations, don’t expect us to do this same thing again. “Further, although a Committee should do its best to alert competitors to potential Rules issues that may come to its attention, it has no general obligation to do so; and the fact that a Committee may be aware of such a potential issue before the competitor returns his score card should not, in and of itself, be a basis for waiving a penalty of disqualification under Rule 6-6d.” Well, that would be welcome news, except that that is exactly what you just did, for the benefit of Mr. Woods.
So, we are to accept that, even though Tiger took no actions whatsoever in reliance upon anything said to him by the Committee, and signed his own scorecard without the 2-stroke penalty even though he knew full well he did not drop his ball in “as nearly as possible the same place from which he hit the previous shot,” we are letting Tiger off the hook because the whole thing was the Committee’s fault. And by the way, even though no future player should expect a waiver when a Committee has failed to do its best to alert him that there might be a problem, we hope you will ignore the fact that we just acknowledged, in writing, that we did exactly that for Tiger Woods because the Committee failed to do its best to alert him. Well, you guys might get away with this, but I am hardly the only one who knows exactly what you are doing.
It seems the Rules are inviolate except when TV ratings might be impacted. Or am I missing something?