I can understand why Rory McIlroy wasn’t around for the weekend at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, he just didn’t play well enough to make the cut, and needed to go practice with his new clubs some more before his next outing, but Nike, along with tournament officials should have a problem with the reason Tiger Woods didn’t play the weekend.
In cased you missed it, Tiger hit his drive on the fifth hole to the right, and into what looked like a brush heap that was unfortunately in sand. Come on folks, the golf course was built on the worlds largest sand trap. His ball was plugged, so Woods called playing partner Martin Kaymer over to verify the plugged ball, removed it and took a drop. He played back to the fairway, and on to the hole.
Because the ball was plugged in sand, and not the fairway, two fans brought the incident to the officials, and Tiger was told on the eleventh hole he might have made a mistake, and it was possibly going to cost him a two stroke penalty. He was told at the scoring tent that indeed he was going to be penalized, and the two stroke penalty was going to cause him to miss the cut.
The golf tournament went from must see TV that fans, including myself, were willing to set the alarm for 4:00 AM to watch, to why bother. Nike got their winner, Jamie Donaldson carries a Nike bag.
In the aftermath of the event, it has been said that Tiger should have called a rules official over to verify the rule instead of Kaymer, but I wonder who really lost here. Tiger missed a nice paycheck, but the sponsors, tournament organizers and the fans were the ones who lost the most, the opportunity to see if the worlds most popular golfer could make up an eight stroke deficit on the weekend.
Professional golf needs to look at the way mistakes like this are handled. I can’t imagine being a fan that spent thousands of dollars to get to Abu Dhabi, pay an exorbitant amount of money for accommodations, and not be able to see the best players perform. I would understand an injury, but not a situation where an official was not present to make a call. I know that if I go to the Super Bowl next month, and Ray Lewis is taken out of the game because of something a fan saw, I am going to be upset.
Don’t get me wrong here, if a player incurs a penalty, they should be penalized. It seems to me that to protect the investment sponsors and tournament organizers are making in these events, they would provide more officials to make judgement calls that assist in keeping players in the tournament that belong in the event, and not sending them home because a fan spotted what they think is an infraction. Had an official made the call, Tiger would have taken an unplayable lie, had a one shot penalty, and been playing on Saturday and Sunday. Just Saying!
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