Arguably, we just witnessed the greatest Masters finish ever. Because it didn’t involve Tiger Woods.
It didn’t matter whether you had Adam Scott or Angel Cabrera, as long as you didn’t have Woods and his specious decision-making tainting the spectacular shotmaking and heartwarming story for the ages.
Truth is, you shouldn’t have had Woods on your TV all weekend because he didn’t know how to do the right thing any more than he knew how to play within the rules.
To review, Woods’ chip on No. 15 hit the flagstick and caromed into Rae’s Creek on Friday. He made an illegal drop and continued to play. A TV viewer alerted the competition committee that Woods dropped illegally. The committee reviewed it and found no wrongdoing. D’oh!
During his post-round media session, Woods said he dropped two yards farther back from the correct spot. Right there, intentional or not, Woods admitted he broke a rule and signed an incorrect scorecard. That’s a gimme. See ya next year.
But no. Woods was assessed a two-stroke penalty. The Masters competition committee refused to disqualify Woods because it never brought the incident to the player’s attention before he signed the scorecard.
It shouldn’t have mattered. The committee shouldn’t have to tell Woods what the right thing is. Woods should know the rules, know that he broke several, and know how to resolve it the honorable way. The Masters people have a history of idiocy, so I get their hamhanded act here. But Woods should know better.
Woods’ post-ruckus interview Saturday was a self-indictment. At first, he said he didn’t violate a rule, but by the end, he was saying the two-stroke penalty was fair because he made a mistake. Yes, that mistake was violating a rule that should be followed by a withdrawal without waiting for wonks to DQ you.
There is a rule that allows the competition wonks to cover their failures. That’s not the issue. That shouldn’t be the issue for Woods. Just because some rules wonks found a way around their own ignorance doesn’t mean Woods didn’t break a rule.
THAT is the issue, and it doesn’t relieve Woods of the obligation to do the right thing, even if the people in charge don’t know what that right thing is. That’s when the honorable part of golf comes in. Or in Woods’ case, that’s when honor gets drowned in Rae’s Creek.
To hear golfers yammer on with great sanctimony, the first rule of golf is honor. It’s a game where players famously tell on themselves. It’s a game of character, and character is doing the right thing even when nobody is looking.
Everybody was looking at Woods and the Masters competition committee last weekend. They got exposed. Every Woods shot I saw Saturday and Sunday should’ve included a graphic that said, “Yeah, I broke a rule but they said I didn’t have to go home.’’
After all of the specious gobbledygook coming out of Woods and the competition committee --- and the obvious slapdown of Nick Faldo by CBS and/or Augusta National wonks --- Woods was in position to contend on Sunday.
But he couldn’t hit enough greens and couldn’t make enough putts. He had failed. By the time a classy youngster from Australia and an indefatigable former caddie from Argentina turned the end of the Masters into a game of HORSE, Wood was long gone.