By MAX PRINZ
ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR
This past weekend I took in that “tradition unlike any other.” I am referring, of course, to the Masters, the first major tournament of the PGA tour’s year. Augusta National was just as beautiful as ever, despite the rain that fell during Sunday’s final round. I took away two main points from the weekend at Augusta.
The first is that Adam Scott played a brilliant 18 holes on Sunday. His birdies on the 18th and the second playoff hole were excellent. He was exuberant, yelling “C’mon Aussie,” but still remained gentlemanly, hugging Angel Cabrera after securing the victory. Scott is the first Australian to win the Masters, and he absolutely deserves that green jacket.
The second point: Tiger Woods is not back just yet. To no one’s surprise, Woods became the story of the tournament when he took a bad drop on the 15th hole during the second round. He signed an incorrect scorecard following that bad drop and was assessed a two- stroke penalty.
Signing an incorrect scorecard is an action that, before 2012, would have resulted in disqualification. New rules enacted by the United States Golf Association allow penalty strokes to be added afterward if facts were not reasonably presented at the time of scorecard signing.
The USGA, for the most part, got this right. There was no need for Woods to be disqualified. Woods’ bad drop was brought to attention by a television viewer. The USGA did not catch Woods. Someone watching on their couch did. The USGA messed up by not monitoring Woods’ drop. There should be an official with a clipboard telling Woods that his drop was illegal, not someone with a remote. This rule was put in place to protect the players. It has clearly succeeded. Fans cannot be able to change the outcome of a tournament. Tiger, just like every other player, deserves the protection of rule 33.
Though he did not deserve disqualification, Woods does deserve some criticism. He is still not the player he used to be, no matter how much he wants to pretend he is. He has reclaimed much of the glory he had before his infamous scandal., but there is still a ways to go.
Woods has yet to win a major tournament since the 2008 U.S. Open. He has played in 15 of the 19 majors since then without a victory. It has been nine years since he last won at Augusta.
Yes, Tiger is again the No. 1 ranked player in the world. Yes, he just scored impressive victories at Doral and Bay Hill. He is even in a stable relationship with Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn. It is not enough.
This latest controversy at Augusta shows a sense of arrogance. Many believe Woods was aware of his bad drop. His victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational is not a sign that he has regained his old form, and he should not act like it.
Woods used to be able to strike fear into other golfers. In all 14 of his major wins, he has had the lead or a share of the lead going into the final round. His opponents knew that he would seal the deal. Woods’ confidence used to be able to take away all hope. That confidence is now turning into arrogance, and he will not regain his old form if he keeps that up.
Tiger Woods was once the undisputed champion of golf. There was a time when I was certain that Woods would someday win his 19th major tournament and surpass Jack Nicklaus. That conviction is long gone. His major tournament drought and negative attitude are troubling. He needs to start winning majors again and soon.