Saturday, April 13, 2013

Side Tracks

From one simple mind to another..

Since the title of this blog is golf-related it's only appropriate to mention the greatest golf tournament at the greatest golf course in the world--the Masters, going on right now.   The song above was once tastefully wrapped into the background of a Youtube video chronicling Jack Nicklaus and his 1986 victory in that tournament (until it was taken down on a copyright).  Nicklaus was 46 years old at the time--pretty old to be winning a major.  But he was the greatest ever.  It brought a tear to my eye watching it because for some of us golf was more than a game, it was a bond with our dads.  Makes one appreciate the time spent and lament the time that wasn't spent and now gone forever.

This year another old guy is contending--at least as of this writing.  Freddie won back in 92, he has contended many times since, but a miracle were to happen he would be the oldest major winner in history.  Of course Tiger and a bunch of young guns are likely to be there in the end while there's an even younger gun--a 14 year old Chinese kid who appears a lot older than his years who made the cut.  Should be fun.


First Freddie--we all knew it was coming.  It was a good run, but it's hard for a 53 year old to keep the edge on every hole.   His swing is still butter.  Or at least margarine.

Now Tiger.  Is it Augusta National's contention that Tiger doesn't know the hazard rules?   He's only been playing golf since he was 2.   Maybe he doesn't hit it in the water often enough to remember and had a brain lock, thinking he could go backwards for his drop as if on line with the hole.  But it's where the ball crossed the hazard line, not where the shot began.   He knew going well left across the fairway was a much more difficult shot, so he admittedly wanted to backup where he was.  But good Lord, where was his caddie?   He (Freddie's former loop) should have been advising him of what he was doing. 

But but but AC, he admitted to his drop in the interview.  Why would he do that if he was guilty?  Yes he did, after he had been told by the Augusta people that it was a good drop and signed his scorecard.  This is really the crux of the matter.  If he had not admitted this in the interview this wouldn't have been typed, but his caddie should have known the drop rules and advised him not to do it.  Part of the penalty of that rule is to drop the ball as close as possible to where your last shot was hit, which brings in the possibility of it landing in your divot on the drop.  He knew he had the option of the drop zone but didn't want to go over there either because like the hazard margin rule it would have been an order of difficulty harder.

So he got the two shot penalty, which he deserved (and admitted he did) but the question is now whether players will suddenly become rules ignoramuses when caught doing this in the future, hoping for the reprieve.  Not only that, but will the anal-lysts apply the rule fairly, not taking into consideration sponsors, advertisers, race, political correctness, yada yada.   Meanwhile, we'll see how things play it out today.  Should be a great finish.

MORE WOODS  4/14/13

Let's get this straight.  People keep saying he signed for the 'right' scorecard initially.  Reports have said that tournament officials reviewed the tapes after the viewer call-in while Woods was playing 18 and determined he had dropped in the vicinity.   I am assuming he wasn't spoken to before signing his card by those officials.  If that's the case he did indeed sign the wrong card, regardless of what any viewer said because he should have known--and his caddy should have known--they played improperly.   That's the gentlemanly aspect of the game.

In looking at the replay of the initial shot it was a low punch.  It would have had a lot of bite on it, but it hit the pin in the air then careened hard to the left side.  It's hard to know where it might have ended up had it missed the pin, but there's some possibility it would have run off the back had the bite not come hard enough.  At any rate, Woods answered the issue when he said he moved back two yards.  His next shot was another punch that landed, bit and stopped next to the pin. 

Thing is, using the margin of the hazard rule he knew he had no option over there.  Keeping the point of crossing between him and the pin would put him either in the stands or right on the bank, an impossible shot.  He had two options--drop zone or drop it as close to his initial shot as possible, which brings in the possibility of dropping into your previous divot.  Most pro golfers should know this rule.   But it's possible he and his caddy got lost in the moment.   That's seemingly what the Augusta graybeards determined.

The seminal point was probably the fact he admitted to the infraction on TV.  There's hardly a scenario imaginable where he would admit this purposely.  Let's say he and caddy knew they had broken the rules.  Let's say they knew every shot was on TV and figured things would be dissected.  Maybe when he got to the scoring table and no officials approached him he figured he had gotten away with it.  At that point he could go ahead and sign the card, thinking that if someone later came back and challenged him he could use the new rule to feign ignorance.  The fact he is Tiger Woods might also pop into his head.

But it seems like a lot of thinking after just coming off the course, his favorite course.  My final guess is he just blew it, they caught it, penalized him, and now he will probably win today and we can all have more controversial fun with it.  

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