Drew’s Morning Dish — Tues., April 16

April 16, 2013 | Drew Forrester

Tiger is the custodian of golf in America.

He’s the player virtually every young golfer aspires to be.

And when given the opportunity to do something extraordinary and accept responsibility for his own wrong-doing, he instead decided to let a seldom used rule save him.

He – with the power to virtually do whatever he wanted in the situation – chose to brush aside his chance to make a decision that would have been an invaluable teaching lesson for junior golfers all over the world.

Please don’t be the one who says: “Name someone else who would have disqualified themselves under those circumstances” — because there’s no possible way to answer that question without seeing others face the same situation.

I know this:  Tiger Woods had the chance to disqualify himself on Saturday and he didn’t.

Lots of people around the country are excusing Tiger by saying, “But wait a minute.  The new rule allows for the tournament committee to waive the disqualification penalty and just assess him the 2-shots he would have been penalized had it been discovered before he signed his scorecard.  If the committee tells Tiger he can play, he should simply tee it up and play.”

That might be a fair answer if you’re Robert Garrigus or J.J. Henry or some other guy you’ve hardly heard of who doesn’t impact the game in a manner even remotely close to the way Woods impacts the game.

Tiger Woods is golf in America.

He’s won the most tournaments.

He’s made the most money.

He’s the only player alive, right now, who will ever have a chance at catching the major championship record (18) held by Jack Nicklaus.

Tiger is the “custodian of golf”.

It’s his job to keep the game clean.

He should be different.

He should be a trend-setter.

Given the chance to set an example that would be remembered FOREVER, Woods ducked out and let the committee keep him in the tournament.

The Masters might have thought they were doing the right thing by allowing Tiger to play on Saturday and Sunday.  They clearly fouled up on Friday when they initially reviewed the improper drop at the 15th hole and didn’t see that Woods played his ball from a position two yards behind his original third shot.  To make up for their mistake, the Masters decided to invoke the bizarre rule that says, in essence, “You should be disqualified, but we’re going to call this an exceptional circumstance and allow you to continue playing.”

That was THEIR decision.

Woods could have risen above that decision and said, “Well, while I respect the fact that a new rule allows me to play the final two rounds, it’s my obligation to know the rules and abide by them.  And by signing an incorrect scorecard on Friday, I have no other choice but to withdraw from the final two rounds.”

Parents, coaches and even media members would have then had the opportunity to laud Woods for his sportsmanship and his dedication to rising above a free-spirited rule and sticking with the true nature of golf which is, in its simplest terms, “The score you sign for MUST be the actual score you shot.”

I don’t care what new rule is in place.  And no fancy wordsmithing can change the philosophy I wrote above — “The score you sign for MUST be the actual score you shot.”

If it’s NOT the actual score you shot, you have no choice but to disqualify yourself from further participation in that event.

That Tiger had that chance and squandered it is incredibly disappointing to me.

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