Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Drop Heard Round the World


The most powerful force in the universe is a black hole.

Light rays disappear into a black hole, and those just skirting it's edges get bent and distorted. They also produce duplicate images on both sides of the black hole, almost like a funhouse mirror.

Tiger Woods is the black hole of his sport.

Everything gets bent in his orbit.

Announcers and their sense of professionalism. Sponsors and their sense of dignity. Commissioners and their concept of equality.

And now the rules. Again. Like the half ton boulder in Arizona that was rolled aside for Tiger by a half dozen volunteers looking to get on SportsCenter.

So let's cut right to the chase.

Tiger clearly admitted to a basic rule violation when he said he dropped the ball "2 yards" further back to avoid a repeat of his unfortunate pin-rattle. (gee, cocky much?)

Additionally, there's clear video evidence showing he did NOT drop the ball "as near as possible" to the previous shot, as was his chosen option.

So nobody is questioning the 2 shots penalty. Nobody.

It's the timing. It's the cover up. It's the bullshit all around that we need to wade through.

So I have questions...

Questions:

1. Besides Fred Ridley, who on "the committee" actually saw the initial drop and then looked at it again on tape after the round and decided it was a legal drop? Because it was not. Once you see the tape, it's plain. This was a stone cold SHANK by "the commmittee" - whomever that is. Stand up and be accountable.

2. Even if you *think* the drop was kosher, why did you choose not to bring it up to Tiger - just to be sure and hear his thinking on it - either during his round, or before signing his card? This is standard protocol at golf tournaments, especially majors and on tour. You know, a little "Hey.. we MIGHT have a problem... tell me about that drop on #15." Happens all the time. Except this time. Whoops. Why?

3. Is Tiger Woods saying that he did not know the rule regarding drop options on a water hazard? Because if that's the case, I'm rather shocked. He's played way too much golf to not know that.

4. Has Tiger ever called a penalty on himself as a professional? Anywhere? For anything?

So now I have to assemble a likely "narrative" on the whole thing (minus many key questions left unasked) and I must key in central conundrum: 'What did Tiger know, and when did he know it?"

Tiger says he didn't know/think anything funny about his drop until the Rules Committee called him late on Friday night. This would seem to be backed up by him shooting his big dumb mouth off about how smart he was to drop it "2 yards back" on the follow up shot.

Now if Tiger had a feeling that drop might have been wrong, but was waiting to hear about it from a greenjacket either before the 18th or before he signed his card - and then, seeing that nobody had a problem with nuthin' - decided to go home for a hot shower and television - then he's a cheater. Stone. Cold. Cheater.

Is he? I don't know.

I don't think I'll ever know that answer, because the assembled media did SUCH a shitty job asking him questions in the limited chances they had at him, it was a joke. The two biggest Tiger "client" reporters (Tom Rinaldi of ESPN and Steve Sands of the Golf Channel) effectively tag-teamed to hog the quick "group avail" and mostly ran out the clock.

I was screaming at my TV when bullshit non-question-questions like "describe your emotions walking to the first tee today" were asked.

Bill Macatee was as useless as you would expect for a guy who does maybe 6 NFL games a year, and then pops up at Augusta to roam the Butler Cabin. Think he was going to risk that cushy gig going all "Mike Wallace" on Tiger? Right.

And you can be damn sure that Tiger Woods IS... NEVER... FUCKING... TALKING... ABOUT... THIS... RULING... AGAIN.

Ever.

So the chance to really pin him down is gone. Gone, gone, gone.

I'd love to pin him down with questions like.... "Did you and Joe Lacava discuss the drop? Why did you so adeptly sort through your options (drop zone, line of play, etc.) and then forget that "same spot" means SAME FUCKING SPOT, not 2 yards back, 3 yards left, or sitting up like a wedding dick on a nearby tuft of grass?"

I do believe one thing: the Augusta rules committee got lit up with snitches right away on that drop by not just astute viewers on television but by somebody on the grounds. Again, this was not a microscopic wobble of a ProV1 in HD on a bunker slope. This was a WRONG DROP!

And the Greenjackets on that committee were very much afraid of Tiger and had NO INTENTION of piling on his bad break on #15 with a penalty. I guarantee you they would have rather volunteered to wash Martha Burk's underarms with a loofa than be the guy who got the short straw and had to tell Tiger to pencil in an 8 on that hole.

Those rules cowards were going to happily let this thing sail away into the Augusta night, to die a slow pitiful death as a harmless theoretical exercise for golf blogging nerds.

Then big shot opened his mouth about the "2 yards."

And suddenly... "Houston.. we have a problem."

So at that point, The Rules Committee had to fabricate a convoluted timeline that was 50% truth, 30% fiction, and 20% barbwire and mud.

And because The Committee was actively trying to look the other way so Mr. TV Needle Mover didn't miss the weekend, it had to come up with it's tortured final ruling, and fall back on the ol' Committee has final "discretion" not to DQ a player if "special circumstances" are involved. (Rule 33-7. Look it up. Have fun.)

It was like the goddamn John Roberts ruling on Obamacare all over again!

So again, did Tiger really not KNOW the rule? Or did he FORGET the rule? Or did he CONFUSE the rule? I think he KNEW it, but forgot. So the only thing left is WHEN did he TRULY realize: "Oh fuck... I made a mistake."

If the answer is: only AFTER getting a call that night, then he's not a cheater. And that's his story. We'll just never know.

Now... to the other question: "should he have DQ'd himself?"

Easy. Answer: "of course."

Because at that point, the entire reason for winning tournament was lost. The asterisk was all ready to be hung. And it would never, ever, ever go away. "Here's Tiger, Mr. 19* Major Wins!" Boo.

If this were any other player, I would have said: "Shit, good break. They let you slide. Tee it up. I hear the money is good if you finish top-10."

But he's not any other player.

Playing the weekend was not worth it, on any level.

Bowing out would have earned Tiger a rare chance to surprise people who follow golf. So far, he's got 14 majors and 73 tour wins, but he's 0-for-his-career on making anybody say: "Wow, I didn't think he had THAT in him. Hmm. Good for Tiger."

Meanwhile, light and truth in golf, bends around Tiger Woods like a voracious black hole.





24 comments:

  1. Of course Tiger knows the rules. THAT'S HIS JOB!!

    Way back when you left the old neighborhood with Scott and Solly to steer the ship, your old guest Brandon Lang was on doing his weekly bit, he brought up a good point. In the gambling world, there is no such thing "cheat on some things". Either you cheat or you don't. Tiger famously cheated on Elin. It isn't much of a stretch to cheat in other aspects of life. using PEDS? sure, why not? "forget" the rules regarding a drop shot? Ooops, my bad.

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  2. Nothing to see here golfers. "Hello Friends," its Tiger's World Again!

    Remember he is Golf Jesus!

    My favorite are the catcalls from former and current players about DQ of himself. He pulled out the BIG GOLF RULE book and said "Nice try Green Jackets."

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  3. It's tempting to see a larger point in the fact that Augusta's leaders lost their backbone after gaining political correctness.

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  4. Once again, Augusta cuts a break for the minority.

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  5. Tiger made an illegal drop because he doesn't know the rules of golf. Sure, he knows most of the basic rules, but knowing the difference between a water hazard and a lateral water hazard can confuse any level of golfer.

    So now we have a new rule in golf, the not DQ'd because of TV ratings rule. It won't show up in the rule book, instead, the all-important decision book will have to be modified. The rule book is like our Constitution, the decision book is like a list of Supreme Court decisions. Apparently, the Masters Organization has decided it's the Supreme Court of golf and has now set a precedent.

    Forget about the rule book, take a look at the decision book as it currently reads.

    http://www.usga.org/Rule-Books/Rules-of-Golf/Decision-33/#33-7/4.5

    All three of the examples used to exempt a player from disqualification have to do with HD video, slow motion video, or a camera with a high-powered zoom lens. None of those would be needed to see Tiger's rule infraction. A simple understanding of the rules would allow you to know Tiger was taking an illegal drop and Tiger was ignorant of the applicable rule.

    So let's read what the decision book has to say about someone that is ignorant of the rules..........

    "A Committee would not be justified under Rule 33-7 in waiving or modifying the disqualification penalty prescribed in Rule 6-6d if the competitor's failure to include the penalty stroke(s) was a result of either ignorance of the Rules or of facts that the competitor could have reasonably discovered prior to signing and returning his score card."

    I've always liked watching Tiger play and I've been cheering for him to break Jack's record. But this changes everything. I've been working on golf courses for over 30 years and one of the cornerstones of my love for the game has been the integrity needed to become a respected member of any golf community. From the Muni to the PGA Tour, the measuring stick for any golfer is not the scores they shoot or the trophies they've won, instead, they will be measured by examples that reveal a man's character.

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  6. Well said Czabe. Couldn't agree with you more. I could see the Tiger entourage circling the wagons after that round... the lawyers. The sponsors. I just completely gave up on pga golf. I would rather watch little league championships. At least those kids have some dignity.

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  7. How refreshing to watch Cabrera and Scott in true sportmanship on both playoff holes...they upheld the integrity of golf when Tiger forgot his....

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  8. Uh-oh. This rant could be for naught- according to yahoo, he dropped in nearly the same spot (despite his comments stating otherwise) and they have the pictures to prove it. Looks like Tiger might have actually gotten screwed. Check out the story with pics- http://sports.yahoo.com/news/golf--photos-show-tiger-woods-may-not-have-deserved-a-two-stroke-penalty-204353354.html

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  9. So why didn't you bring this up in 2011 when the rule was changed? They obviously set it up so a big name didn't get DQd and hurt ratings. You just have no credibility bringing it up after the fact. None. You want it to be one way.....but it's the other way.

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  10. The two yards Tiger was talking about was the "shot" not the "drop". If you look at the drop itself you will see him extend his arm over the original spot but a slight adjustment of the hand changed the direction the ball would land. Everyone is saying he admitted to changing where he hit the ball, but what is lost in translation is why would he hit the ball exactly the same so he would hit the pin again?

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  11. zman929 - The issue isn't with the rule its with the misapplication of the rule. It is to prevent a DQ when something like HD TV picks up the fact that a ball moved or a club wisped the ground and the golfer did not see it.

    As Baroo61 points out, the rule specifically says there is no waiver of DQ due to ignorance of the rules. I believe Tiger made an honest mistake in the moment, but it was a mistake, it is incumbent upon him to know it and therefore, once he signs a scorecard for a score lower that what he got he should be DQ’d.

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  12. Czaban, I've been playing golf for 35 years and this signing the correct scorecard is ridiculous at the pro-level. It's time for scoring to be kept by real officials. The tournaments already have officials walking with each group. This is why golf is still a GAME and not a SPORT. Amateur tennis players keep their own score until they get to the Pro circuit level.

    No professional golfer should ever be DQ'd for an incorrect scorecard. Scoring should be kept by officials The 2 stroke penalty was appropriate. DQ'ing is ridiculous for ANY golfer in that situation. It's time for the rule book to evolve. Glad the committee did the right thing.

    He didn't try to cheat. And you know that deep down, if you are good as you say you are in covering golf. He may have cheated on his wife and kids, but he's been straight up with his peers when it comes to competing in tournaments.

    Get over this Tiger had a rare moment to do something good. That's utterly ridiculous. He's done more good for the game and profession then just about anyone in the history of the game. His mistakes are personal not professional.

    Jeez.

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  13. Well said Mikey S.

    Czabe is as predicitable as running water on his position on Tiger. They guy made a mistake and incriminated himslef two hours later in the interview. Czabe you actutually believe he cheated or knowingly tried to get away with something when he readily admitted he dropped it two feet back. It was a mistake. Your ridiculing of Tiger for everything he does is getting old dude. If this was your boy Jim "I've never seen a put that hasn't taken me two minutes to address" Furyk you wouldn't of even brought it up.
    I'm not a Tiger fan by any means but I am also not so biased to let my personal feelings of someone impair my common sense.

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  14. Having reviewed the images, tape, etc...I don't see what the big deal is here. Looks to me like they actually tried to make an example out of this situation. I just don't see the "2 yd" difference. I see a few inches. How can that be a penalty? It is a drop, not a place the ball on the ground in the exact spot like you would on the green...which is of course pretty easy with the markers used. This whole incident was silly. Play on. No penalty.

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  15. Baroo61 and Taha nailed it. Woods is a cheater. And he has zero character. That shouldn't really be a shock to anyone, except the sycophants who swoon like little schoolgirls when they watch him.

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  16. I listened to your morning show today and the thrill in your voice for getting a chance to trash Tiger was so nauseating.

    Golf is a gentleman's game? Get over this. Like all these guys who play golf are saints? Get over it.

    Tiger's mistakes.
    1. Dominating a white sport.
    2. Marrying a white girl and cheating on her.

    I thought you would actually appreciate Tiger for his frank talk explaining what he did. No other player would not have been even interviewed about his drop shot. Obviously i was wrong.

    And what with the sudden love for everything Australia today on your radio show after an Aussie won ? You want to check with a "not so white" person about how friendly Aussies are. You will be educated.



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  17. Typical attitude of the incredibly arrogant:
    The rules are for other people.

    Srini, that was WEAK.
    Arrogance knows no race but it sure knows Tiger.
    Get over yourself.

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  18. Remember folks, Tiger cheated on Czaban. His critique and attempts to discredit Tiger is similar to the wrath of a scorned woman. It was a beautiful 20 minute moment for Czabe this evening on the Sports Reporters (ding, ding). DA Czabe presented his case. And let's play along. Let's say Czabe won his case. So what did he prove? Oh that's right. Tiger Woods is a golf cheat. And thus since he cheated at the 2013 Masters, his 14 previous major wins are also vacated (NCAA Czabe). I am going to keep listening to Czabe. He entertains me. But I'm very disappointed at his effort to prove a meaningless case. Czabe, you could have elevated your game. Here's what really happen and the analysis you should have provided:

    Tiger Woods domination was ultimately due to his mental ability to control his emotions and that is what has escaped him over the past 5 years. It's great to see the difference in Tiger's mental within the context of Tiger (last 5 years of no major wins vs. the time period of 14 majors). Remember, it was his mental excellence that allowed him to win the US Open with a broken leg. It has to be mental excellence to block out physical pain in a sport that requires the ultimate concentration. His deterioration in his mental game has affected his putting, driving, and in rare instances (like Friday) course management.

    Tiger got ticked off with that bad break and Czabe wants to act like Tiger woods is 100% perfect. Yes folks, TW can make mental mistakes too.

    It was a rare occasion to see Tiger behave like a normal golfer. He lost his cool and got lost in the moment. It's so rare that people like CZabe base their case on the impossibility that Tiger could make a mental mistake. He didn't' cheat. He behaved like a normal human being. I doubt we will get to see this mistake happen again anytime soon. Tiger is going through a process to regain his mental edge. Looking back, this will be the best thing that happened Tiger to sharpen his mental game.

    And Czabe knows this. Czabe has to keep his audience happy. Czabe is very shrewd to his profession like TW is to golf (I'm serious). And Czabe's dedication to golf makes it hard for me to believe that he thinks TW cheated. But it makes for good sports radio and blogs. So thus I contribute to the fun of it all.

    Congrats to Adam Scott. I glad he won it. With that said, the field still looks lackluster. It's unfortunate what has happened physically to Phil. Rory is an impostor. We all know Golf is going to suck after TW is done. Tiger is the last of a great run of dominating golfers (might be the end of an era). Golf is becoming like the NFL with respect to parity.

    The Field caught a break this week as Tiger ball doinked off that stick and into the water. And how about the 540 degree lip-out. Never seen that before. Tiger was on the brink of running away with the tourney. But the golf gods and Elin (with her voodoo doll) said NO this week.


    But I bet that Czabe knows deep down that Tiger is going to win more majors and the field does not look as strong as some report. The masters was boring until the 17th hole. Luckily it ended on an exciting note.

    BTW, don't worry about race. When TW is done, there will be no golfers with part (or full) african-american heritage to follow. All of those predictions have been wrong. You may see a black female golfer at some point. Just a meaningless aside.

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  19. Its not Tiger is bigger than the game, its Augusta is bigger than the game. Plus, a 2 yard drop with zero competitive advantage is nothing compared to using an anchor putter to win a major in one of the most pressure spots in the world of sports.

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  20. Boy, the haters have to be all white guys! I think the rules are clear and yes he should have stopped after signing his card (not that one of you would). I am commenting on the polarization of us as a people. Sunday is truly the most segregated day of the week (besides church). Did anyone think that maybe from his point of view he did not see the trajectory that we saw because of TV? I am sure he knows the rules but if he thought it went in behind the flag he was correct in what he did.

    In the poll for the most hated players in sports, the top 5 or so were black. While most of the responders where white. I hate talking about race but some things are so "in your face" that you have to comment. The media makes these guys, all of them.

    Why can't we have this discussion on why all the caddies changed from being black to white? Look at the old Masters videos. Black caddies made nothing ($$) could we push this issue? No.

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    1. This is the dumbest comment I've read on her! Rob, please tell me why the caddies at the Masters changed from being black to being white. I really can't wait to read your answer.

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  21. Just like doing your taxes. Why not take the least amount of penalty that you think you can get away with? The almighty dollar is way more important than any semblance of honor or dignity.

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