Australia’s Adam Scott and Argentina’s Angel Cabrera completed one of the best Masters tournaments I’ve seen in quite some time.
Nearly glued to my television from start to finish, I watched the tournament conclude with Scott making a putt to win more than $1.4 million and the coveted Green Jacket in the first major of the golf season.
It really was as dramatic as every major sports network said it was, and the tournament itself is given the coveted coverage it deserves from coast to coast as millions of fans Р or more Р watched the tournament from Thursday to Sunday.
But it’s one thing to watch the best major tournament finish in the best possible manner, and a completely different thing to ruin a person’s tournament right in the middle of it.
The second round of the Masters concluded with seeming normalcy. Tianlang Guan made the cut on the number, becoming not only the lone amateur to make the cut, but the youngest ever to make the cut at the Masters. At 14 years old, the middle schooler from China was one of the most fun golfers to watch, despite his plus-12 final tally.
Then Saturday came and Tiger Woods, who was only a few strokes from the top of the leader board, suddenly found himself at one-under-par instead of three-under because, get this, someone from somewhere called Augusta National to inform referees that Woods should be assessed a penalty for not dropping in the proper area after being the victim of a bad bounce.
His shot, for those who didn’t see it, was unfortunate. It ended up hitting the flag stick and rolling backward all the way into a water hazard. Despite his best efforts to save the hole, the fact that he was within earshot of the lead at the time had to play in his mind as a positive.
Then it was taken away from him Saturday. He played well, shooting five-under-par at the end of the tournament, but still didn’t win.
In the end, people may look at his final score, add the two strokes he would have had if not for the penalty, and realized that he still lost the tournament by two strokes. But it’s the fact that someone can call the golf course, get ahold of a referee, and take away all the momentum Woods built up heading to the weekend rounds that bugs me the most.
Sure, the final standings now say that he finished fourth, but imagine if he were only those two strokes behind the leaders entering Saturday. Knowing his game and his focus, he easily could have caught the leaders within the first few holes, or possibly had the lead by the end of the third round.
Instead, it gets thrown out the window because one of the many armchair golf referees decides to take advantage of a system that shouldn’t exist in the first place.
Only in golf are the fans of the game somehow allowed to “referee” the game. If they see a penalty or the possibility of one, they call without question to tell an actual referee that there was a penalty likely made on the other side of the golf course, and the golfer, in most cases unknowingly, is either disqualified or, under a relatively unknown rule in golf, assessed a penalty.
But to have someone call in and change the complexion of a tournament is outrageous. You can’t call a baseball park in the middle of an at-bat and say “hey, that was a ball, get the batter back in the box,” and you can’t call a football stadium in the middle of a game to say “that clearly was a penalty, get the head referee on the phone.”
No other sport has the openness of involving its fans more than golf, but the armchair refereeing should stop. All the talk on the Internet and on sports networks about it takes away from what really happened in the tournament.
That being said, congrats goes to Scott for winning and for Cabrera for being graceful in defeat.