Why Tiger Should Have Withdrawn From the 2013 Masters

After getting incredibly unlucky, Tiger took a two stroke penalty, but he missed an opportunity to improve his image.

Thrash TalkTiger Woods should have withdrawn from the 2013 Masters.

Yes, it was more than he had to do, because the rules state that he was able to finish out the tournament, but withdrawing would have been the right thing to do.

On Saturday morning I got to my club as I do for most Saturday mornings for breakfast with my regular group. By that time ESPN and Golf Channel had already been talking about the drop. One of my good friends came in and I told him of the ruling and he immediately said that when he was watching the event he had told his wife after Tiger made the drop that it was not a correct drop. Sadly I did not get to see it live that day because I was working but I certainly saw the replay on all of the sports channels.

I, like the Masters officials, did not think anything was wrong with what Tiger had done. I was thinking that he was able to take the drop in line with the flagstick and go as far back as he wanted. The issue that I had was that I had forgotten that the ball entered the water way off to the left from the line Tiger and the flagstick were on. We cannot be sure if the Competition Committee at Augusta made this mistake as well, but it was easy to make. This all aligned with what Tiger had said in his post-round interviews saying that he moved two yards back and slightly to the left. Now looking back on it all, clearly the drop was no good.

The issue that remains after all of this is should the Masters Competition Committee have disqualified Tiger after all the information was in? I think the committee felt as though they had made the mistake of not getting the drop correct after it happened and because of this they felt they should not have disqualified Tiger. This is somewhat understandable because the committee may have felt that had their been an official in Tiger’s group they may have told Tiger he could take his drop where he did. I say this because the committee said that they reviewed the drop while Tiger was on seventeen and deemed the drop acceptable. I am making assumptions in my assessment but I think this is a logical conclusion.

The ruling that later ensued is shrouded in controversy and after pages of discussion on our forum and I am not sure it is much clearer.

Right after the ruling was made, I like most it seemed thought that Tiger was saved by Decision 33-7/4.5, better known as “The Harrington Rule.” Rule 33-7/4.5 definitely has its place in tournament golf because the quality of the television coverage is so good now that we cannot expect players to see everything. Resolution of TV coverage is only going to get better with 4K and slow-motion cameras that there must be a fall-back plan.

I would rather not get into the details of the rules because often the rules can be confusing and the point of this piece is to give a thought more on what Tiger should have done after learning about his rules mishap.

Tiger Woods

Tiger knows the rules of golf. Although in saying that he has already been penalized (for an illegal drop) once this year in Abu Dhabi, which resulted in missing the cut. Still, I doubt anyone will argue that Tiger does not know the rules. I think in this case he was frustrated by what just happened, which by the way was overwhelmingly unlucky, and make a mistake on where he should take his drop. Do I think he broke the rules on purpose, no. That is clear, he is not someone who cheats at golf.

Once Tiger knew that he had broken the rules and gained an advantage, however slim that advantage might have been, he should have told the committee he was going to withdraw. He would have said to the committee that he understood the rule 33-7 but this rule was not made for a case like his. A golfer unknowingly breaking a rule as Tiger did, should not have benefitted from 33-7.

Outside of winning I think a withdraw would have helped Tiger’s image more than a top ten. It would have been the upstanding thing to do and not marred the result. Golf is a game that is defined by the players calling penalties on themselves. Once Tiger knew that he had broken the rules and signed an incorrect scorecard he could have withdrawn and made big headlines for doing the right thing. Yes, it would have cost him a chance to win, but sent a positive message for his fans and even the folks who may have changed their mind on him after the scandal. I am someone who has started to root for Tiger and I feel his image could have been improved by the withdraw.

Photo credits: © Michael Madrid.

23 thoughts on “Why Tiger Should Have Withdrawn From the 2013 Masters”

  1. WDing would have made no sense. He not only suffered a twist of fate but was given the appropriate penalty. It’d be like throwing in an extra $100 on a $20 parking ticket.

    Lee Janzen was penalized the same way back in 2001.

    I called for the DQ right up until I learned that the committee had already ruled, making his scorecard perfectly valid. In other words, anyone who called for Tiger to WD doesn’t really know the rules.

  2. I agree with Erik on this 100%. Tiger was dropping incorrectly but not with an intent of breaking a rule. He deserved the 2 stroke penalty. Since the committee had the opportunity to speak with him and get the facts before he signed his card, it is their failure which put him in the position of possibly being disqualified. Had they acted in a timely manner, he would have been assessed a 2 stroke penalty and play would have continued. These are the facts and that failure on their part put Rule 33-7 on the table, and in equity, the committee did the right thing.

  3. At this point, golf fans and the population in general either like Tiger or they hate him. Withdrawing from the tournament would have hurt him financially and his world ranking, it would have had little or no impact on changing the opinion of the haters.

  4. Yes, there is precedence with Janzen but that doesn’t automatically mean it was the correct decision then either. There is no rule that covers this situation explicitly – there is only the rule that gives the committee leeway in extraordinary circumstances like this.

    For those of you arguing that DQ was off the table once the committee had the “opportunity” to talk to him but did not, what about the following alternate scenarios:

    What if they *did* determine the drop was incorrect, but were not made aware of the drop and were not able to review it until *after* Tiger signed? Should he have been DQ’d then? I think the answer is clearly yes, since the committee never had the opportunity to talk to Tiger. It then becomes a simple case of signing an incorrect scorecard.

    So what if they determined the drop was incorrect *before* Tiger signed, but were unable to catch him before he signed? Should he have been DQ’d then? If DQ is based on whether the committee had the “opportunity” to speak with Tiger, then in this case they did *not* have that opportunity (due to there not being enough time to do so), therefore he must be DQ’d.

    If you argue that it depends only on whether the committee *attempted* to talk to Tiger before he signed, and the review of the tape happened while he was walking up to the scorer’s table, then you now have to determine to the second not only when Tiger signed, but when the committee decided to make the “attempt” to speak with him. Should a DQ depend on random variables like that?

    Whatever your answers to the above hypotheticals are, my point is that it’s not as cut-and-dried as some of you would like to believe.

  5. @Fourputt, ” Tiger was dropping incorrectly but not with an intent of breaking a rule.” It is this sentence Fourputt that I don’t agree with. My feeling is intent has little to do with this result. If I break a rule, just because I didn’t intent to break the rule does not mean I get a break. After reading what you said after that, I can see your perspective on the 2 stroke penalty being enough punishment.

    @newtogolf, that is probably true. Haters gunna hate

  6. Tiger comes out a huge winner if he wd. Think about it. Suppose he wins. It would always be known as the Master* (asterisk intended). If he ties Jack or beats his record by one, 19-18, it would be a point of contention forever.
    If he wd., the selflessness of that decision would endear Tiger to the public in a way that makes him a hero and it totally flips the chase. As he approached the record we’d constantly be reminded that he’d be one closer if not for the Masters (asterisk omitted intentionally.)
    Life, like golf, is a game of opposits. Want to curve it right? Swing left. Want to elevate your rep. Humbly lower yourself.

  7. I feel like if he had WD from the masters all his nay-sayers would have said he was quiting because a bad break was taking him out of contention. Instead he fought back from it and put himself into a good place to have a shot on Sunday, as slim as that chance may have been.

  8. The real issue here is that the ruling should have been made on the field at the time of the drop.

    A rules official should have advised Tiger to take the drop correctly but because a rules official wasnt there then the end result was always going to be the same.

    Also, it seems to me that many people are conflating this penalty with the one that 14yo was given as some sort of evidence of a conspiracy against the 14yo. Its not and its idiotic to continue to try to link to two very seperate incidents.

  9. Michael, the point about “intending” to violate a rule is exactly why the two-stroke PENALTY was applied – he violated a rule, and got the appropriate penalty.

    The actions (or inactions) of the committee saved him from the DQ. It’s all really that simple.

    And sacm, there’s no point in discussing alternatives. They’re also covered under the Rules of Golf, with known, predictable outcomes. They don’t apply here.

  10. @Erik: Please provide the rule or decision that covers whether a player should be DQ’d if the committee is aware of a rules violation, wants to talk to the player about it, but is unable to before the player signs their card.

    I’m still waiting for anyone to give their opinion on what they think the ruling should be in that scenario.

  11. This article is appropriatley placed in the Trash Talk section of this site. The only people who want Tiger to withdraw are the haters and armchair Brandle Chamblees of the world.

  12. Furthermore, if his first approach shot had been a half inch less perfect one way or the other to miss the pin, then Tiger would have won this tournament. Why is no one talking about this? It was nice to be treated to some really good competition at the end with Scott vs Cabrera. But lets be honest, this tournament was an abortion as soon as that ball hit the flagstick

  13. Rip, it’s “Thrash Talk” because the original author of the column was Cody Thrasher. Cool the silly insults, eh? Nobody’s talking about Tiger winning if he’d missed the flag because it’s purely hypothetical. We don’t know that he’d have won, and the world is full of “what-ifs.”

    sac, they did not “want to talk to the player” but were unable to. They made a ruling. It’s pointless to discuss scenarios other than that which happened.

  14. @Rip24 I don’t consider myself a Tiger hater, in fact if you had read the article closely you would see that lately I have been more a fan than anything else. For me it is a realization that a player like Tiger is once in a generation and like him or not Tiger is that player from my generation. It would be fun to brag to my kids and grandkids that I watched Tiger and experienced his accomplishments first hand, as my grandfather did with his stories of Nelson, Hogan and Snead. I now root for Tiger to pass Jack in the major count to further enhance the story.

    The key point to my story is that Tiger did not have to withdraw and it has nothing to do with disqualification, but he learned that he had broken a rule and he should have taken it upon himself to withdraw after learning that he had broken the rules. The net benefit of the withdraw would have benefited his image more than the top 10 that he eventually got.

    Erik and Fourputt are unquestionable correct that the fair penalty for Tiger should have been the two strokes he got. This was the correct action according the rules. Still I believe that what Tiger should have done was withdraw.

  15. ———————————-
    newtogolf says:

    At this point, golf fans and the population in general either like Tiger or they hate him.

    NTG has a valid point here.

    Also, I never saw the broadcasters clearly explain why Tiger didn’t take the “line between the pin and the ball crossing the hazard.”

    And, it didn’t help that the Clown Prince of Golf, David Feherty, spent so much air time muddling the issue. For an important matter, get someone capable of linear thought to do the talking.

  16. I am certainly a fan of the game and an occasional player as well, but I also am a fan of several other major sports, including baseball, hockey and football. The notion of a competitor withdrawing from a competition is ridiculous in the context of other major sports. That is what officials and umpires are for. Can you imagine a baseball player voluntarily ejecting himself from Game 7 of the World Series? Absurd.

  17. Michael, by WDing his fans would have been ticked, his detractors would have still failed to give him credit, he’d have opted out of a major he could have still won (costing him that, the $$$, and the OWGR points), and perhaps dumbest of all: he’d be slapping the rules committee in the face by saying “nah, I don’t think you got it right.”

  18. So from now on everytime a golfer gets penalized for breaking a rule they should withdraw? He broke a rule, was penalized, and moved on. I think we should all do the same.

  19. If they let him play. He gets to play. You are a paid golfer. You are getting paid by a lot of people to show up and do well. They are the ones who matter first. They will want to know that you took every opportunity to stay in the tournament you could. If you made a legitimate mistake, and there was no way to get out of it, that’s one thing. Otherwise, you stay in and you compete.

    Tiger’s personal life has very little to do with his breaking the rules or not. He does not owe any sort or compensation (or even an explanation) to the fans for being a bad husband. The two are not connected.

  20. Wasn’t going to comment but there’s quite a bit of assumption here. I dislike TW (based on the public image) but I definitely admire his golf. To say that the haters (and what a stupid phrase that is) won’t change their minds even if TW had withdrawn is just dumb.

    If TW had withdrawn (and I think he should have been DQ’d in the first place), that would have been a major game changer for my perceptions of the man. The fact he didn’t goes a long way to confirming those perceptions are probably right after all.

  21. All interesting comments,however, if this happened to a lesser known
    golfer would there be this dialogue? Most likely not.TW hits pin, ball goes in water,TW(now very frustrated) drops and hits again.It’s Augusta, his mind set is what?Was he purposely doing something wrong. No, It’s Augusta. Penalty assessed . Move on.It’s Augusta.Hope I get the chance someday to make that mistake at Augusta!!

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