Augusta, GA (Sports Network) - Tiger Woods was assessed a two-stroke penalty
for his illegal drop, but to the Brandel Chamblees of the world, the
punishment wasn't harsh enough.
Chamblee, a one-time PGA Tour winner and current commentator, is arguing for a
Woods withdrawal, claiming the four-time Masters champ gained a competitive
advantage over the field with his illegal drop on No. 15.
Technically, Chamblee is right. Woods violated Rule 26-1 when he didn't take
his drop "nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last
played" and he admitted it after the second round, saying he "went two yards
further back and ... took or tried to take two yards off the shot."
But is disqualification or withdrawal really necessary? How much of an
advantage did Woods really gain? In my opinion, the two-stoke penalty fits the
In the past, this wouldn't have been an issue. Woods signed an illegal card,
which used to mean disqualification. But the recently implemented Rule 33-7
(announced in August 2011) states that "a penalty of disqualification may in
exceptional individual cases be waived, modified or imposed if the Committee
considers such action warranted."
So the Rules Committee saved Tiger from disqualification. But was their action
warranted, as the rule demands?
When examining the circumstances, the answer appears to be yes.
First of all, the infraction wasn't egregious enough for the committee to
take immediate action. While Tiger was still on the course, a television
viewer notified Augusta National of a possible rules breach. The committee
then reviewed the tape while Woods was on the 18th hole and "determined that
he had complied with the Rules," per a statement from Masters officials.
So, by the Rules Committee's initial findings, Woods' card was actually legal
when he signed it. It was only after a post-round interview, when Woods said
he moved his drop back, that the officials again reviewed the tape and
reversed their decision.
Which brings me to my second point: intent.
Yes, if Woods intentionally broke the rules in an effort to gain a competitive
advantage and then lied about it on his scorecard, he should be disqualified.
But that doesn't appear to be the case. If it were, why would he casually
admit it on TV after the round? He was in the clear, off the course and
through to the weekend just three shots off the pace.
Instead of an intentional violation of the rules, it is more likely that Woods
was caught up in the moment and lapsed mentally. Keep in mind, he was tied for
the lead when his stellar approach unbelievably bounced off the flagstick and
rolled into the water.
And that is why Rule 33-7 makes so much sense. It saves players, under intense
mental strain, from themselves. Tiger's drop didn't warrant disqualification.
The two-stroke penalty gave him a triple-bogey 8 on No. 15, where he might
have holed out for eagle if it weren't for that pesky flag. And it dropped him
from seventh to 19th on the leaderboard.
In this case, Chamblee sounds like a relic; stodgy and pompous. Rule 33-7 is a
step in the right direction and this case will likely serve as an example of
how to implement it going forward.
Woods shouldn't withdrawal. The punishment fits the crime.
The Sports Network