No matter what happens this weekend, Tiger Woods can’t win.
If he goes on to overcome Saturday morning’s 2-stroke penalty and win his 15th major title*, that asterisk will always be there when it reads: Winner, 2013 Masters*.
If he doesn’t win, which I can’t imagine he can now that all of this has taken place, folks are always going to say, “he got what he deserved for not withdrawing.”
Since I’m sure I’ll be asked about it a lot, I might as well just get my opinion out there now.
Tiger Woods should withdraw this morning.
He can’t win, even if he wins.
But, in the long run, he’s a winner if he does the right thing and tells Masters officials he’s withdrawing from the event.
Here’s the fact: Tiger took a “bad drop” on Friday afternoon at the 15th hole.
The fact that he’s been “saved” by a new rule that says, basically, “if you didn’t know you broke the rules, you can simply be assessed a 2-stroke penalty afterwards” is about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Who KNOWINGLY breaks the rules? In professional golf, that would be no one.
But rules get broken all the time, either because a player didn’t actually know the rule or, in many cases, he misinterprets it and does what he thinks is right, only to find out later on that he was wrong.
Tiger wasn’t trying to break the rules on Friday when he dropped the ball two yards behind his original shot at #15 that went into the water.
But, the fact is, he dropped the ball two yards behind the original point.
He was saved by an obscure rule.
But that doesn’t mean he was playing “within the rules” when he took the drop.
He should withdraw today.
That would be the right thing to do.
And, honestly, it would benefit him over the next decade as he continues to chase the major championship record of Jack Nicklaus.
If I’m advising Tiger, I say this to him: “You have 40-some majors left. You need to win four to tie Jack, five to break the record. The way you’re playing now, we both know you’re going to get your chances between now and the time you’re finished…don’t let this be the tournament everyone talks about in 2040 when they’re talking about your great career.”
It’s easy for me to write “Tiger should withdraw” from the cozy confines of my living room, but that’s what he should do.
By the way, a lot of the rules in golf stink. Many are archaic and just plain unreasonable in nature. You can swing and miss at the ball on the tee and your hitting your second shot next. You can hit it 320 yards off the tee, but if it goes two inches out of bounds, you’re hitting your third shot next. That’s about the dumbest rule in sports. That Tiger dropped the ball on 15 two yards BEHIND his original spot seems fine, to me. It’s one thing if he would have dropped it closer to the hole. But he dropped it further from the hole. That said, rules are rules.
In this case, though, the new rule saved Tiger.
That doesn’t mean he was in the right on Friday afternoon.
He took a bad drop.
But he’s still playing this weekend.
And no matter what happens, he won’t win.