Fail of the Week 11

May 6, 2013

A few weeks later, the dust settles, and we find out the truth; the news is out on who outed Tiger Woods. We all assumed it was a random TV viewer call-in; those despised “I’m going to get you, professional athlete, while sitting on my couch” people are shamful, we all thought; so many people discussing “I don’t like the idea that golf entertains this type of thing!”

Well, that wasn’t the REAL story.

As reported by DeadSpin (http://deadspin.com/punk-ass-snitches-who-ratted-out-tiger-woods-identified-486213426), a Senoir PGA Tour player and none other than Jim Nantz combined to alter the outcome of golf’s greatest tournament, ruining the fun of watching for all of us.

As a recap, those who may or may not know the story, on the Friday round at Augusta National Golf Club for the 2013 Masters, Tiger Woods struck the pin with his approach to the 15th hole. The ball ricocheted back into the water in front of the green–a terribly unfortunate result. What happened next was just strange. Tiger reviewed his options for places to drop and elected to re-play from the original spot. He dropped his ball, hit a shot within putting distance of the pin, and went on to make the putt.

Rule 26-1 governs the ability of a player to take a drop. Tiger’s election was under Rule 26-1(a):

26-1. Relief For Ball In Water Hazard

It is a question of fact whether a ball that has not been found after having been struck toward a water hazard is in the hazard. In the absence of knowledge or virtual certainty that a ball struck toward a water hazard, but not found, is in the hazard, the player must proceed under Rule 27-1.

If a ball is found in a water hazard or if it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found is in the water hazard (whether the ball lies in water or not), the player may under penalty of one stroke:

a. Proceed under the stroke and distance provision of Rule 27-1 by playing a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5); or

b. Drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped; or

c. As additional options available only if the ball last crossed the margin of a lateral water hazard, drop a ball outside the water hazard within two club-lengths of and not nearer the hole than (i) the point where the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard or (ii) a point on the opposite margin of the water hazard equidistant from the hole.

When proceeding under this Rule, the player may lift and clean his ball or substitute a ball.

Shortly after, the Masters Tournament Rules Committee took a call that indicated that Tiger Woods had not dropped “as nearly as possible” because his ball was a few yards behind his original spot. The Rule Committee reviewed tape, decided not to talk to Tiger about his drop, and allowed him to sign his scorecard. Tiger Woods took a post-round interview from CBS in which he discussed the whole (as it had quite a negative affect on his round) and described how he dropped “a few yards back” because his first shot was a little too long. The Rules Committee was then again notified about Tiger, but this time it was that his post-round comments may have indicated he was not in compliance with the rule because dropping “a few yards back” is not “as nearly as possible.”

Tiger was not disqualified but was given an additional two-stroke penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. The Rules Committee decided not to disqualify Tiger–which would have been likely in different circumstances–because they had made a ruling on the situation and allowed him to sign a wrong scorecard. Tiger finished 4 shots off the lead of Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera, who went to playoff with Scott winning.

Although it seemed odd at first not to disqualify Tiger, the Rules Committee’s explanation of it as “we made a ruling and Tiger was entitled to the benefit of that Ruling” seemed to make sense. The PF has no quibble with that. It seemed like the Rules Committee got that right. Although many called for Tiger’s disqualification or withdrawal because he was getting “special treatment,” no one seemed to acknowledge that the only reason this was an issue was because cameras were on him. If you think other players were not violating this rule, you are crazy.

Moreover, it’s not exactly sure what “as nearly as possible” means. Does a player have to drop in his own divot? If so, why would anyone ever choose that option? Surely, that cannot be what is required. How close is “close enough?”

Alas, we digress. This FAIL is reserved for none other than Jim Nantz.

Jim?! For Real?!?!? What were you thinking?

Look, you get to go to this tournament every year, experience some of the finest accommodations anyone could imagine, and be a part of everyone’s memories of this amazing tournament. WTF are you thinking sticking your nose in the middle of the tournament?

Broadcasters have no business interfering with the tournament any more than couch potatoes do. You are not a pro golfer. You are not a competitor. You are a side show to what is going on out there. If we wanted to watch you referee a game of golf…well, no one would ever want that.

Look, First, we’re sick of you getting googly-eyed over Tom Brady. He’s a good quarterback. No one needs to you emphasize that for them. Next, stay where you’re put and don’t interfere with the event you’re broadcasting. You basically killed your own broadcast by taking the most popular player in the tournament completely out of the competition. If Tiger is one down coming to 18, do you not think everyone on earth is watching, hoping he’ll make a birdie? If he didn’t have to shoot 65 to tie the lead, do you think things would have come out differently–or maybe just been a little more exciting for all of us?

Jim, this week, you’re the FAIL.

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Play of the Week 33

June 19, 2012

This week, I’m afraid I have to give the POTW to the USGA. Typically, I am not a fan of the US Open. When I’ve watched the tournament in years past, I’ve typically found it to be rather boring for a number of reasons. In most cases, it is pointlessly difficult, to where even the best in the world can make nothing of the courses (Oakmont, 2007; Shinnecock, 2004). In many cases, the winner is boring or surprising–as if we were playing the John Deere classic instead of a Major (e.g., Lucas Glover 2009, Angel Cabrera 2007, Michael Campbell 2005, Reteif Goosen 2001/2004). Often, it’s just a war of attrition, where the one player who’s lucky enough to find his ball on every hole manages to sift through the gauntlet and survive the fray (GMac, 2010). Or, the tournament is just boring (McIlroy, 2011).

But every few years, the USGA gets it right. One of the most memorable tournaments I’ve ever watched was the US Open at Torrey Pines in 2008, where Tiger edged Rocco Mediate with a gutsy performance that just outlasted one of the most tenacious players in the game. Or 1999, where the image of Payne Stewart sinking a 20-foot putt to save par on the 72nd hole has become an icon of the game of golf. But in 1999, although the winning score was -1, the course played fairly. It showcased how the greatest in the world (a very young Tiger, a younger than now Phil) could play when the pressure cooker was on, and Payne’s lasting legacy of 1-putting the last 3 holes to hold on was truly a riveting watch.

Like ’08 and ’99, this year, the USGA got it right. The US Open this year wasn’t flashy. It was a simple test–a par 70, even. No water hazards to fly over, no forced carries, not even more than a few fairway bunkers. But Olympic Club was just right. The winning score a nice +1, with Webb Simpson coming out on top over Jim Furyk–trying to hold on–and Graeme McDowell, who charged in at the end but couldn’t seal the deal. Webb posted his second 68 of the weekend hours before GMac and Furyk walked off the course, leaving the scene for great tension and excitement. Olympic was a true test–not just a slaughterhouse. It TESTED the best in the world, but the test could be passed. Players didn’t complain that it was unfair or say that it was too penal. Instead, they went about their business, and the winner played under par both rounds on the weekend. When was the last time you said that about a US Open winner? (well, other than 2011, when Rors was on an absolute tear, but who else?) And, for the second time this year, the winner of a major has come from a pairing other than the final group, which is some welcome excitement that we don’t often see.

I’m not saying this was as exciting as the Masters is every year, or that the US Open is no longer my least favorite of the majors. What the USGA typically does to the players isn’t right, on any level. But this year, the course was what a true test should be. When a player masters that test, he should get the trophy, and Webb did. So, to the USGA, we solute you. And, to Webb Simpson, congrats on passing the test.

us open olympic