22 September 2013

 

Tiger's judgment is in question...

It seems like nothing goes right for Tiger Woods lately. Even when his swing – if it can be called that – works, he goes and screws it up with an unnecessary penalty. This time involved what we call “oscillation” where the golf ball moves, but comes back to rest in its original position but it Tiger’s case, it didn’t.

Well, to be fair, Tiger said it did, but unfortunately, the videographer working for the PGA Tour showed the videotape which proved it didn’t.

When something you want seems to be slipping from your grasp, people sometimes tend to get a bit desperate and want things to be as they want them to be, rather than what they actually are. Without clear cut proof otherwise, they argue their point.

In the end, Tiger agreed to the penalty because he really didn’t have much choice, but you know he was burning inside.

To be honest, I think we have all faced this moment at one time or another. You have a great round going and all of a sudden a bad shot pops up and threatens to derail your great round with a double or triple bogey. You swallow your irritation and then whack what you think is a great shot, only to find it land in a horrible position which opens the door to another double or triple bogey (two or three shots over par for the hole).

This is the moment of truth.

In most cases, the player will snort derisively, fume a bit, then deal with the issue at hand as best he can and try to save bogey at worse. I would LIKE to say that perhaps 98 per cent of all players would choose this route, but unfortunately, 35 years of playing the game and officiating at tournaments has proven otherwise.

The ones who “choose otherwise” try to illegally improve their lie and, thus, their odds on making a successful recovery to save par or bogey. This is cheating at its worst because, chances are, there is nobody even remotely close to you who might see you cheat. Like taking candy from a baby. The only one who knows you cheated is yourself and, sadly, many people still sleep comfortably at night despite the fact they were dishonest.

The ends do not always justify the means. Winning at any cost is not winning. It’s losing.

A few friends of mine once decided to trap another friend who they suspected at cheating at golf. This guy always had a great lie when his ball was in the rough. It was never behind a tree or stuck between some roots. His ball was always just inside the OB line and was almost always “playable” in a water hazard.

So they called on a family member who was a trained Army sniper who silently moved through the trees without being seen. Every time the suspected cheat entered the trees to find his ball, the sniper was ready with a telephoto lens camera.

Needless to say, the “suspected cheat” became a “confirmed cheat” and lost a lot of friends that day, not to mention having trouble finding anyone at the club to play with for many years.

Cheating at golf is despicable because it doesn’t involve any great skill or nerve. There is nobody around to see you do it. Moving your ball two inches to one side to give you a better lie is child’s play.

And this is why the rules are so strict and the penalties are so severe.

Now, I am NOT saying Tiger willfully cheated. From his position it would be very difficult to see if the ball actually moved enough to be a rules infraction. However, his state of mind at the time might not have been as clear as it would have been if he was winning majors and not fighting his swing all the time.

I don’t want to believe Tiger Woods would willfully cheat at golf, but given his past actions off the course, one has to wonder if the phrase “once a cheater – always a cheater” comes to bear.

While the Master’s rule violation was obvious and intentional, this last one wasn’t and I believe Tiger deserves the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes and especially in golf, “stuff” happens.

Always be true to yourself and the game.


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