Even though rules officials have only assessed him a two shot penalty after not penalizing himself for an illegal drop on the 15th hole yesterday, Tiger Woods must disqualify himself from the 2013 Masters. No, I’m not drunk or crazy. Removing himself from the event is the right thing to do, both for Woods’ legacy and the integrity of the game.
Golf is a game that has relied on its participants to police themselves for as long as the game has been in existence. There are myriad circumstances where players have assessed themselves a penalty when nobody else saw their infraction. It would have been easy for that player to not say anything and move on without penalty. But, in an effort to uphold the integrity of the game, they owned up to their infraction (whether intentional or not) and accepted the consequences.
Intent does not matter. A rule was broken that caused Woods to sign an incorrect scorecard, which should have resulted in disqualification. The rules committee took the onus on themselves and fell back on a relatively new rule that allowed them to give Woods a two stroke penalty at their discretion, instead of disqualifying him. I’m not even going to try and speculate whether this ruling would have been the same if a different player was involved.
If Woods does not disqualify himself from this event, it will follow him for the rest of his career. He is a man that has had his share of black marks during his professional career, though most of them have been in his personal life. Tiger has never had the reputation of being one to take advantage of the rules, and if he wants to maintain that reputation his only option is to bow out of the Masters.