Tiger Woods Not DQ'd

Golf is an uptight, self-righteous sport in so many ways. Most sports are played in shorts or pants and a shirt designed to maximize performance. Golf is played in khakis and a polo. Anybody can pick up a basketball and find a hoop. Anybody can get a football or baseball and have a catch with their buddy. Golf is expensive as hell. It's literally a country club sport.

This self-righteous culture is often actually good for the game. I promise I'm trying my best not to be cynical. A young person playing the game can learn valuable lessons about honor and integrity. Self-policing is part of golf and you could very easily sub my "self-righteous" for "responsible." This weekend we've seen both the worst this responsible/self-righteous culture can show in a penalty on a teenager and at the same time that the game is progressing in the ruling with Tiger Woods.

For those that don't know - Tiger's approach shot on the 15th hole Friday hit the flag stick and careened into the water. He then took a drop just behind his original shot. The rules are dense but what you need to know is that for the drop option Tiger chose, you're supposed to drop as close to the original spot as possible. Tiger admitted in his post-round interview that he dropped about two yards back for a better distance. This isn't directly why Tiger wound up almost getting DQ'd and did receive a two stoke penalty.

Because he took an illegal drop, Woods should have assessed himself a penalty. Because he didn't, he then had an incorrect scorecard and signing an incorrect scorecard is grounds for disqualification. In 2012, there was a new rule added that if someone calls in a rules violation they see on television that a player was unaware of that caused an incorrect scorecard, the player is assessed a two stroke penalty and not DQ'd. This was applied to Tiger and this is where things get messy.

First and foremost, the fact that some buffoon at home can call in a rules violation is a joke. Could you imagine in other sports if this was the case? You think those calls in the Syracuse/Michigan game would've stood up? Hell no! My tail would've been on the phone screaming bloody murder about the block/charge call and how the officials screwed it up. But this is golf! The sport so obsessed with the rules that a gentleman's agreement to enforce them to the best of his knowledge just isn't good enough. You need Harry at home with his rulebook and likely his rotary phone.

When you get down to it though, the decision is controversial and I fully understand that. The rule was put in place because HD has made it possible to see violations that we didn't know previously existed such as blades of grass moving. Again, the fact that this constitutes some violation is absurd, but roll with me. The spirit of the TV rule that permits a temporarily incorrect scorecard wasn't put in place for a player who was ignorant of the rules like Woods apparently was here. So how does the Masters justify it? Perfectly.

The rules officials got a call from some schmuck and looked at Tiger's drop while he was still on the course. They ruled the drop was good enough and that no penalty should have been assessed. It wasn't until Tiger's post-round interview where he said he dropped it purposely two yards back that they re-visited the drop and determined that something was amiss. So, in other words: it took television for them to realize there had been a violation. It wasn't a replay like the rule had been designed for, but an interview that doesn't happen if not for TV.

Is it a stretch? Maybe. But it feels right to me. The rules of golf are horribly confusing and if an official on the course and officials in the clubhouse didn't determine that he had broken a rule until he admitted it after the round than can you blame Woods for being a little confused? And for those screaming that Woods should withdraw: get over yourselves. "It's the right thing to do!" Nick Faldo went as far as to say it's the "manly" thing to do.

1) Have you seen the pants some of these dudes wear? "Manly" isn't exactly the adjective that first jumps to mind when I think about golf. Good work Faldo.

2) Do you really think one of the fiercest competitors in the history of earth who also has an incredible respect for the game and it's history would blatantly admit to and brag about violating the rules and getting away with it?! Hell. To. The. No.

Is ignorance an excuse? In this case yes. The rules of golf are comparable to the rules of the NCAA. They're way too dense for any human to memorize and while this seems pretty simple, remember Woods had three choices of what to do on a drop. He mixed up two of them. Big deal. What's the penalty? Strokes? Yes. Disqualification? No. That would have been for signing the incorrect scorecard. So in the end you wind up just tacking on the penalty and Woods plays on. Sounds like a logical conclusion to me and good on the USGA for doing just that.