Fifteenth hole. Flag pole. The difference between “rule” and “law.” Illegal drop. Divot. “Rules of Golf.” Ignorance of the Rules of Golf. Two yards. Two-shot penalty. Rule 26: Relief of Ball. Rule 33-7. “Errors identified as the result of recent advances in video technologies.” Scorecard breaches. Integrity. Ethics. Favoritism. DQ.
Of all of these words and terms that were heard over the weekend pertaining to Tiger Woods’ “Dropgate,” the most important word that should have been associated with him not disqualifying himself (or being disqualified) midway through this year’s Masters, was business.
Overstand: That eight-letter word reigns supreme over every other word/term/saying that appears in the opening paragraph. Always has, always will. Because, at the end of the day (and at the end of this and every other Major in golf that includes Tiger Woods), the “Business of Golf” will always supersede the “Rules of Golf.”
Especially when the specter of Tiger Woods not playing is at the center of the controversy.
The PGA, USGA, Augusta National Golf Club, Hootie Johnson, and Jesus Christ himself know that there was no way, in either heaven or hell, that Tiger Woods was not going to see, or be seen on Sunday at, this Masters. Not the way he was playing coming in, not when he was favored to win.
There was too much money attached to him, for anything as dramatic as him being removed from the Masters (or him removing himself) based on a technicality, to occur. Fred Riley, the chairman of the Masters’ competition committee stated, “To me, it would have been grossly unfair to Tiger (Woods) to have disqualified him after our committee had made that (initial) decision.”
The initial decision was made to not DQ Woods because, while his “drop” was appropriate, it was knowingly inaccurate. That alone leaves too much gray area. (Think about it: Had Tiger known that he had done something wrong, would he really have incriminated himself in the post-round press conference? Is he really that arrogant?) Tiger would have to straight-up do a Lance Armstrong (purposely cheat) or act like John McEnroe (a damn fool during play), for anything close to a disqualification to happen.
The “large outcry,” as Jim Nantz referenced it while calling the tournament, for Tiger to disqualify himself from the tournament was imbecilic. Based solely on the direct and indirect financial impact Woods has on the game, don’t these people – and when I say “people” I mean the Nick Faldos (“He should really sit down and think about this and the mark it would leave on his career, his legacy...sit and just go, wow, ‘I would be doing the manly thing to go, I have broken the rules of golf”) and David Duvals (“I think he should WD (withdraw). He took a drop to gain an advantage”) and Brandel Chamblees (“A flagrant rules violation that will follow (Woods) for the rest of his career”) of the world – know it was impossible for Woods to proceed as they wished?
Don’t they know that the concept, and reality, of C.R.E.A.M. wasn’t invented by the Wu-Tang Clan?
Although there is and will be legitimate pushback and recourse to the theory that the decision to let Tiger "slide" was driven by money, it would be at the same token very narrow-minded to totally disregard and dismiss the business side of this. Golf majors are big business. TheMasters, with Tiger coming in as a strong favorite to win,is even bigger business. So regardless of thewritten/unwritten, understood/misunderstood rules of Augusta and the PGA, Tiger Woods is/was not going to be removed (or to remove himself) from this or any Masters with two days left to play. Not based on how close he dropped the ball to the divot.
It should be universally known and understood that major advertisers and sponsors such as IBM, Exxon and AT&T would blast CBS for the millions of dollars lost, had Woods not been allowed to play on Saturday or Sunday. And it should be known and understood that CBS would have blasted the PGA for allowing such a thing to happen.
They – and, this time, I mean everyone who thought, said or believed that Tiger should have been disallowed to finish the tournament – should know to connect the dollars associated to the 200 countries across the world that were watching the Masters over the weekend. They should understand how those dollars are largely associated with every move Woods makes whenever he is in contention to get a green jacket.
This is the true law of the game, what everything else abides by. Even with a sanctimonious, self-righteous sport as golf, none of us can be dumb enough to ever think that ethics and integrity and rules have more power in professional sports than money.