Tiger Woods came into the 2013 Masters as the hottest golfer in the world, with his destiny seemingly aligned with the chance to put on another green jacket.
And whilst the week's action isn't over at Augusta National, it seems more than likely that Woods will leave the hallowed course without another title to his name—something that will likely be talked about in the same sentence as the phrase "bizarre, two-stroke penalty".
[OFFICIAL] Tiger Woods assessed a 2-shot penalty for taking an improper drop on No.15 in Round 2. Now stands at -1, 5 shots off lead.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 13, 2013
Augusta Ruling on Woods based on USGA Decision 33-7/4.5, revised in 2011. Full details here: pgat.us/6014XGYE— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 13, 2013
The biggest controversy surrounding it all was that, thanks to some loophole, Woods was only punished the two-shot penalty. That might seem like a harsh penalty in itself, but compared to the option that it seemed Woods was lined up—disqualification—it all ended nicely for the golfing legend.
Which, in itself, has led to more controversy for Masters officials.
Logic would suggest that if Woods did break the drop rule, then he should have been disqualified as the rule book suggests. If he didn't break the rule, then he didn't hit an illegal shot, didn't sign an incorrect scorecard and shouldn't face any punishment at all.
The fact he has been punished suggests that the star did in fact break the rules, yet the tournament officials were wary of the situation on hand. After all, Woods is the draw card to the tournament—he is the marquee player—and disqualifying him from any action would mean that the Masters lost some of it's allure and appeal from the everyday fans who simply follow Woods.
And as a side point, who was the TV viewer who snitched on Tiger?
So, who was the "television viewer" rules stickler that snitched on Tiger? I mean, come on man: cbsprt.co/10SDmIm— Royce Young (@dailythunder) April 13, 2013
We will never know that for sure and I'm not one trying to spread cynicism. In fact, what needs to happen is not cynicism but closure. The controversy and speculation surrounding Woods needs to come to an end—regardless of who was "more right".
He made a bad drop, he was punished for it—end of story.
For this controversy and speculation about what could have been as the Masters isn't doing Woods any favors. In fact, it's detracting from his stellar year so far and hurting his image as the greatest golfer currently playing the game today.
Woods has been nothing short of exceptional in 2013—winning various tournaments and showcasing some truly excellent hitting. He has not shot bad rounds, he has not fallen into the inconsistencies that plagued his game (and his mind) for so many years.
Tiger has earned himself the No. 1 ranking in the world from Rory McIlroy—earning himself a staggering 194 points in 2013 so far (per Official World Golf Ranking).
By comparison, only two other players in the top 50 have earned 100 points or more, and neither of them are even close to Woods' 194, or the No. 1 ranking that the American star now finds himself in.
Whether Woods would have won the Masters or not without the two-stroke penalty is something that we will never know and shouldn't speculate on.
For every time that we do, we take away the incredible performances of Woods in 2013 and how spectacular his rise back to the top of the world has been.
Even if he doesn't have a new green jacket to add to his collection.
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