Stupid Rule, But Still A Rule

Golf has quite a little mess on its hands today. Tiger Woods got absolutely robbed yesterday on the 15th hole when his shot hit the pin and then bounced into the water. But, that is where the fun started.

Woods had three choices at that point.

1- Go to the drop area and drop there- he didn’t choose that option

2- Drop the ball, keeping the point where it last crossed the margin of the water between the hole and the spot on which the ball would be dropped- I think he thinks he chose this option.

3- Return to the original spot from which he played, and drop “as nearly as possible,” from where he played the shot.

The problem is his shot hit the pin and spun well left before going into the hazard. If you look at the video evidence, he did not drop with the point where the ball went into the hazard and the hole between him. CBS did an excellent job of showing that last night.

So that leaves option #3 which requires him to drop “as nearly as possible” from where he played his third shot. The problem with that is Tiger clearly said he dropped it two yards behind that spot. (Yes, two yards or six feet is pretty close, but the spirit of the rule is that you play it from exactly where you hit the last shot, unless that would mean hitting out of your divot. Two yards back isn’t that spot.)

Here’s where golf gets stupid. The penalty for an illegal drop is two strokes. The problem is, since Tiger already signed his scorecard without that penalty he would be DQ’ed for an illegal scorecard. Golf takes this pretty seriously, as you can see here, but it is a completely unfair rule. I don’t think anyone thinks Tiger was trying to cheat the game. He simply got the two drops confused and executed what he thought was a legal one. The fair thing to do is to penalize him the two strokes and let him play on.

But, the rule is unbending, if they determine he took an illegal drop, he should be disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. We know that no one from the Masters people to CBS to golf fans wants to see that happen, but trying to change the rules to protect Woods would be even worse. Hopefully, golf learns from this and changes the scorecard rule for these exact situations.

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  • blmeanie  On April 13, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    I think he should have been dq’d because he admitted to trying to gain an advantage with the 2 yd drop back. If he didn’t say that then I think the penalty would be fine.

    Long live Jack’s record!

    • nysportsfanatic  On April 13, 2013 at 7:59 pm

      I totally agree on both counts, but I heard this little nugget I read today which explains what went down.

      Apparently a viewer called into a rule official yesterday after Tiger’s drop and said it was an illegal one. (I would love to know who has a rules official on speed dial. Probably a former player, no?) Officials reviewed it and didn’t feel it deserved a penalty. Then when CBS started digging around on it after 9pm last night, officials took another look.

      So, this to me is clearly a case of the rules officials covering their ass. If they had reviewed it correctly yesterday before Tiger signed his scorecard, they could have discussed it with him and he could have penalized himself one stroke. Once they didn’t do that, a DQ was the likely result, but they totally bent Rule 33 to their own needs and spared him.

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