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Apr 13

Penalties and DQs: What’s Your Beef with Augusta?

Should Tiger Have Been Disqualified

When an event is this big, the amount of detail work is unfathomable. When that’s all done, there’s another huge job in monitoring the real time unfolding of the tournament. Apparently, the latest round started with an alert from a TV viewer, and some interesting expressions, previously hidden, are coming out of the woodwork.

The story is already well known – Tiger took a drop after a “hit the flag and into the water” shot (weird to begin with, in my experience). He took the drop two yards behind the previous shot, which is apparently a violation, even if you’re doing it to avoid the appearance of cheating. Ok, I’ve had some of those “no good deed goes unpunished” days. Based on what he knew at the time, he signed and turned in an incorrect scorecard. Only afterward was he informed of the official decision that a two-stroke penalty was warranted. An incorrect scorecard is normally a DQ, but Tiger received no help and was not advised before the submission. On the other hand, wouldn’t one with his experience call for a ruling on the spot? Now I’ve done it – I’ve confused myself.


guan 3 Tiger should have no beef with the Masters, because they let him stay in a tournament he can still win. The Masters has no beef with Tiger, who was upfront and cooperative in discussing the drop. On the other hand, why did they need him to do all the discussing? Was Nick Faldo correct, that Tiger was “the judge and jury on this?”

Angela Stafford had a beef about Tiger’s decision, plus a chocolate shake, claiming that if she asked the LPGA for two extra yards, she’d be spending the afternoon at DQ (Dairy Queen and Disqualification). Unlike most of us who play on the weekends for no purse at all, hitting a shot from farther away is generally considered a disadvantage. Irish golfer Shane Lowry didn’t mince words – he never does – “This is a joke. In my opinion, anyone else would have been DQd.”

If Tweets were live incoming ammo, Tiger would be playing this Saturday with a pith helmet and a bunker at the ready. It seems as though a whole lot of previously simmering anti-Tiger sentiment has boiled over – it’s out. Players, lots of them, are ticked off and saying so. Ernie Els, for example, tried to discuss it from the point of “intent,” not knowledge, then laughed it off and walked it away, a pointed statement in itself.

guan 2And yet, Masters officials decided that it would be “grossly unfair” to disqualify a person for a violation unrecognized by the institution before the card was signed. Plus, with the majors already in Tiger’s pocket and cameras beaming him all over the world, a dropped ball probably wouldn’t be the best time to cheat – and I don’t think he did. I’m with Hunter Mahan on the ruling – “not sure is the right answer.”

Meanwhile, poor Tianlang Guan (or is it the other way around?) got a one stroke penalty for slow play. I can sympathize – if I were there under his circumstances, I would have been DQd for stopping to take pictures of the course, in disbelief that I was really playing it. That, like the other, was a judgment call, and it could be that it was badly made. Guan doesn’t need to have a beef, though – he’s just testing out the land for his real career, to commence soon, plus, he has acquitted himself brilliantly already.

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Bob Costas has a beef with the Masters, and he can afford to, because he doesn’t have anything to do with it. He claims that he’d be kicked out of the broadcast booth, because he’d take rain delays to talk about the history of racism and sexism at the Masters. It’s true, the brothers-in-charge at Augusta have a lousy record. There’s something tricky about hailing and soaking up this tournament, meanwhile turning a blind eye to its sketchy past, but we do it. ON THE OTHER HAND (did Tevye play golf?), I would think myself ill-used if someone took a moment of my public victory to orate on my shortcomings decades ago.

guan 1Well, as an old guy who has watched the Masters for a long time, I have no beef with Fred Couples hanging in there near the top of the leaderboard, or with the fourteen-year old making the cut. I have no beef with the annual excitement factor this tournament seems able to produce without fail. And the Tiger drop? I’ll pass on that one.

 

 

 

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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.