Saturday, April 05, 2014

It is one of these nights in Southern California

Courtney Love is in Los Angeles. Apparently she has given up her search for Malaysian flight #370 and is now searching for the Lakers’ missing offense.

Since you asked:

Fascinating read in “Sports Illustrated” titled “The Drop” on Tiger Woods’s second round penalty on the 15th  at last year's Masters that should have gotten him DQ’d. First, he knowingly broke the drop rule – and even admitted it in the press conference after - and, as a result, signed a bad scorecard.
If you’re a casual baseball fan, the balk rule might seem murky and petty. But to a pitcher, it is gospel. Their job depends on knowing it. Same thing stands for the rules in golf. Golfers know the rules inside and out because that is their job. Especially the rules about signing a bad scorecard. Especially the rules about dropping after hitting into water.
Tiger Woods knows the rules better than anyone.
The worst thing about golf is when great shots are punished. On 15, Tiger hit an amazing shot that hit the flag and then went into the water. That sucked. But the three options are clear: A, hit from the drop area, B, draw an imaginary line from where the ball went into the water and hit as far back as you want, and C, hit it from your last shot. Tiger felt the drop area sucked, and B was a terrible angle and left no green for Tiger so he decided to use the best parts of B and C and he moved his shot six feet back from where he hit it so he wouldn’t hit the flag-stick again.
Tiger intentionally broke the rule. At the least he should have been given an immediate two-stroke penalty, at best he should have been kicked out. 
Alan Shipnick did a great job writing “The Drop”. The thing about good sports writing  - especially about Tiger Woods – is that it allows you to read between the lines. There are lots of shadows and mystery in the staid and stodgy environment that is August National, home of the Masters. 

The entire mess could have been resolved if one green jacket Masters official had mustered the stones to approach Tiger before he signed his scorecard and assess the two-stroke penalty. They did not. That speaks volumes on both sides. Two words that come to mind are cowardice and arrogance. Those two words seem juxtaposed. In this case they were not. 
Tiger Woods has a long scorched-earth reputation for intimidation and vindictiveness, like his Nike mentor, Michael Jordan. Cross me and you pay. Big. The problem is golf and basketball could not be more different. Hoops are ruled by politics, shoes, money and players; tradition and rules rule golf. Hoops is a mean-streets game. Golf is a gentlemen's country club game.
Clearly the relationship between Tiger and the officials at the Masters is not cozy. Their lame ruling to belatedly assess the two-stroke penalty yet waive the obvious bad-scorecard-signing DQ essentially put the ball  - and the guilt - back to Woods. It was up to Tiger to do the right thing and DQ himself.  He did not. Neither side can be happy with the other. In other words, it was a poop sandwich and both sides had to take a giant bite.

Without going into the rules, the Masters decided to apply a DQ exemption that clearly did not apply to Tiger. The exemption is only for players who were totally unaware of their infraction. Tiger admitted his infraction in a damn press conference. The Masters officials had no business giving Tiger the DQ exemption and Tiger had no business taking it. It was a weak and sad moment for golf.
In the cozy “you rub my back, I’ll rub yours” whispering world of golf, the Golf Channel’s Brandell Chamblee’s repeated on-air condemnations of Tiger for not doing the right thing and pulling out of the 2013 Masters was the equivalent of a WWF beat-down. Golf's holy triumvirate, Johnny Miller, Greg Norman and Sir Nick Faldo all agreed with Chamblee, although less stridently. (Fear of Tiger’s wrath was palpable, but this ugly breach of etiquette superseded it. Bobby Jones is spinning in his grave)
Here is the between-the-lines part about “The Drop.” There is no doubt in my mind Tiger has chosen to punish the Masters for last year by not playing this year. Is it petty? Is it vindictive? It is. That is Tiger.

Yes, Tiger has a balky back, but he could have played. The medical procedure Tiger had on his back,  a microdiscectom, is an elective out-patient procedure. Repeat, elective. 

The end result? Both the Masters and Tiger Woods deserve not to have each other this weekend. And yet it is we, the viewers, who have to pay. We the viewers - as well as the Masters sponsors, but nobody is shedding a tear for them - we the viewers have to pay for Tiger and the Masters' cowardice and arrogance.