SBD/April 15, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Opinions Vary As To Whether Woods Should Have Withdrawn From Masters After Penalty

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Woods' rule violation happened at the 15th hole during play on Friday
One of the main storylines to come out of The Masters this year was the two-shot penalty assessed to Tiger Woods following his second round. The move by Augusta National to penalize Woods -- and not disqualify him for signing a wrong scorecard -- drew a variety of opinions throughout the golf world and beyond. In Cincinnati, Paul Daugherty wrote Woods “didn’t deserve to be disqualified, even though that is the standard penalty for signing an incorrect card.” The Masters officials “messed up by not telling him.” They “don’t have rules officials walking with each group here.” Daugherty: "You can’t DQ a guy for signing a bad card, if he thinks he’s done no wrong, and you haven’t informed him otherwise.” Club officials “made the right call” (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 4/14). In Charlotte, Tom Sorensen wrote to DQ Woods at that “juncture would have been outrageous since the Masters was as guilty as he was” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/14). YAHOO SPORTS’ Dan Wetzel wrote under the header, “Masters Makes Right Call In Penalizing, But Not DQing, Tiger Woods” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/13). In Atlanta, Jeff Schultz wrote if Woods “screwed up, the Masters screwed up more.” It is “easier to make a case that Woods shouldn’t have been penalized at all than it is that he should’ve been DQ’d” (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 4/14). The AP's Jim Litke wrote under the header, "Woods Plays A Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free Card." Woods may have "behaved badly," but the "green jackets in charge of the Masters behaved worse" (AP, 4/13). GOLFDIGEST.com's Weinman & Myers noted one "big miscue was by the rules officials who reviewed Woods' drop on the 15th hole, ruled out any improprieties, then opted against even broaching the topic with the player before he finally signed his scorecard." Had that part "happened, Woods would have still been assessed a penalty, but the club and player would have been spared a fair amount of embarrassment along the way" (GOLFDIGEST.com, 4/13).

PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT FOR TIGER? SPORTS ON EARTH’s Shaun Powell wrote the idea that The Masters “gave Tiger preferential treatment because he’s back to being the No. 1 draw in the game doesn’t pass the smell test for a few reasons.” There was “no financial or any other gain by allowing him to play after he signed the wrong scorecard.” There also was “no damage done to the game or the tournament or Tiger’s character, only to Tiger’s score” (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 4/14). In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel asked, “Had this been Lucas Glover committing the same error would he have been DQd, or given a two-stroke penalty?” Engel: “You would hope the penalty would be the same for any golfer, and given the nature of the infraction it does seem like a couple of strokes is the appropriate measure” (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 4/13). The Masters Rules Committee Chair Fred Ridley said, “I can’t really control what the perception might be or might not be. All I can say unequivocally is that this tournament is about integrity. Our founder Bobby Jones was about integrity and if this had been John Smith from wherever, that he would have gotten the same ruling because, again, it is the right thing under these circumstances” (TORONTO STAR, 4/14).

MAKING A BUSINESS DECISION? In N.Y., Mark Cannizzaro wrote there is "no way the Masters was going to allow itself to lose its star draw and mar its perfect tournament at its perfect course" (N.Y. POST, 4/14). NEWSDAY's Mark Herrmann wrote Masters officials have “long been creative and flexible when it comes to big stars.” Former golfer Ken Venturi “never has gotten over what he considered a bad call in Arnold Palmer’s favor on an embedded ball 55 years ago.” Golfer Brad Faxon said that if he were in Woods’ situation there “would have been no” exceptions to the rule, such as the one Woods received. He said, “I’d be packing my trunk” (NEWSDAY, 4/14). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay wrote the business of golf did a "very businesslike thing" when it permitted Woods to continue "despite what appeared to be a disqualifiable rules violation" (WSJ.com, 4/13). In Toronto, Ian Hutchinson wrote under the header, "Drop-Ball Fiasco Shows That Woods Gets Special Treatment" (TORONTO SUN, 4/14). In Boston, Ron Borges wrote under the header, "Augusta Drops The Ball." The ruling was a "kind of shady manipulation of the letter and the spirit of the law" (BOSTON HERALD, 4/14). In L.A., Bill Dwyre wrote the committee's decision may have been "totally driven by fairness and 'integrity.'" But in an "increasingly cynical world, one that embraces conspiracy theories, it's tough to avoid a frown here" (L.A. TIMES, 4/14). In Minneapolis, Jim Souhan wrote under the header, "Masters And Woods Both Take The Low Road." 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" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/14). GOLFCHANNEL.com's Rex Hoggard wrote the decision to "intervene and forgo disqualification" may have been the "right thing" and possibly even justified. However, there was "no escaping the pall the ruling has cast over the Masters, if not all of golf" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 4/13). In Augusta, Scott Michaux wrote under the header, "Woods Ruling A Failure By All Parties" (AUGUSTA CHRONICLE, 4/14).

WITHDRAWING WOULD HAVE NOBLE THING
: GOLFDIGEST.com’s Dave Kindred wrote if Woods had “done the right thing Saturday morning, he would have admitted his mistake was so egregious that he should withdraw from the tournament.” It would have been “the best public relations move of his career” (GOLFDIGEST.com, 4/13). Golf Digest’s Dan Jenkins wrote on his Twitter feed, “Tiger missed a chance to enhance his legend. It would've been bigger for him to withdraw with honor than to continue playing under a cloud” (TWITTER.com, 4/13). In Cleveland, Bud Shaw wrote Woods “could’ve gained a lot of respect by withdrawing from the tournament after acknowledging a rules violation clearly intended to give himself an advantage.” He “should've withdrawn because he is Tiger Woods” (CLEVELAND.com, 4/13). The N.Y. POST's Cannizzaro wrote Woods "could have improved” his image “immeasurably had he done the honorable thing and withdrawn” (N.Y. POST, 4/14). The L.A. TIMES' Dwyre wrote as Woods has “come back to the golfing greatness that defines him, he has shown signs of caring about repairing” his image. That made a voluntary withdrawal by Woods at The Masters “a two-foot putt” (L.A. TIMES, 4/14). GOLF.com’s Cameron Morfit wrote Woods’ situation “looks bad,” and he has “already lost in the court of public opinion, in a landslide” (GOLF.com, 4/13). In San Diego, Tod Leonard wrote under the header, “Woods Lets Green Jackets Take The Fall” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 4/14). YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Busbee wrote Woods “shouldn't be playing on Saturday, but I'm not so sure he should disqualify himself. I'm of the opinion that Augusta made the right decision in the most wrong way possible. ... Sure, it would be a good idea for Woods to withdraw, PR-wise, but as we've seen so many times before, Woods has defied the PR wisdom, and he's as popular now as he's ever been post-hydrant” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/13).

CUT HIM SOME SLACK: In N.Y., George Willis wrote there was “no reason for Woods to pull himself out of the major championship.” In fact, it was “more important to the sport he continued to play” (N.Y. POST, 4/14). ESPN.com’s Gene Wojciechowski wrote it would have been “the noble thing for Woods to withdraw," but it "wouldn't have been the practical -- or correct -- thing to do.” Woods “screwed up, but the rules committee compounded the mistake by not doing its due diligence after the TV viewer called in to a rules official” (ESPN.com, 4/13). CBSSPORTS.com’s Will Brinson wrote the idea of Woods needing to withdraw was “absolute garbage.” One argument for Woods’ withdrawal “involves the honor and integrity of the game of golf.” Brinson: “I do understand the integrity that goes along with playing golf. It's a gentleman's game, and there's a high level of accountability for one's own actions that go along with playing it. But Tiger isn't kicking a ball out of a bush or throwing an extra Nike from his pocket onto the fairway without anyone looking” (CBSSPORTS.com, 4/13). GOLF.com’s Michael Rosenberg asked, “Are we really going to say that Woods should disqualify himself because the whistle blew a few hours later?” Rosenberg: “A little common sense won’t kill the game. What happened this weekend is not an affront to golf. It’s called progress” (GOLF.com, 4/13). In Tampa, Gary Shelton wrote under the header, “Mild Punishment Fits Tiger’s Masters crime” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 4/14).

INNOCENT MISTAKE? In DC, Thomas Boswell wrote it is “hard to believe” Woods “could not know” the rule he broke. But it is “far harder to believe that Woods would deliberately break a rule, benefit by it, get away with it, sign his card for it, stand in fourth place in the Masters after 36 holes and then voluntarily tell the world every pertinent fact that could get him penalized or disqualified from the Masters.” Woods “just screwed up” (WASHINGTON POST, 4/14). SPORTS ON EARTH’s Powell asked if Woods “knowingly cheated when he signed the wrong scorecard, why would he admit to it before 30 million people? Doesn’t make sense” (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 4/13). In San Jose, Mark Purdy wrote Woods was “assessed a two-stroke penalty for being honest in a TV interview” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 4/14).

COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED: GOLFCHANNEL.com’s John Feinstein wrote Woods should have withdrawn, but "part of Masters tradition is that no one is allowed inside the ropes during play other than players, caddies and -- of course -- TV technicians and cameramen.” There are “no walking scorers; no media and no rules officials.” If there had been a walking official with Woods he “almost certainly would have been able to make sure Woods understood his options after his third shot at 15 hit the flagstick and spun back into the water” (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 4/13).
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