MORRISSEY: Tiger Woods’ bizarre penalty phase
BY RICK MORRISSEY September 14, 2013 7:52PM
LAKE FOREST, IL - SEPTEMBER 14: Tiger Woods walks off the 15th tee during the Third Round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club on September 14, 2013 in Lake Forest, Illinois. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 159810245
Updated: October 16, 2013 6:57AM
Tiger Woods and the rules of golf are still estranged.
When officials penalized him two strokes Friday during the second round of the BMW Championship, it was his third violation of the year. That’s a crazy number for a pro golfer. If Woods were a car, there’d be a Denver boot affixed to his wheel right now. Then he’d get struck by lightning twice.
Three rules violations would seem to suggest he doesn’t know the rules well or is having trouble with his eyesight. Or, to put a happy face on it, things certainly do happen to Tiger!
‘‘It’s just the way it’s been,’’ he said.
The most recent violation took some of the shine off his 66 on Saturday. He’s four shots behind leader Jim ‘‘Mr. 59’’ Furyk heading into the final round Sunday.
On Friday, Woods hit his ball into the trees beyond the first green. When he removed a twig, his ball moved slightly. Woods later said he thought his ball ‘‘oscillated,’’ moving but settling back into its original position, which is legal.
A PGA Tour entertainment crew filmed Woods as he removed the loose impediments near his ball. An editor looking over the tape noticed that the ball moved as Woods went about his yard work. The editor sent the tape to PGA officials. The tape clearly showed movement. There was no vacillation: two-shot penalty.
The PGA official who informed Woods of the penalty is named Slugger White. That deserves its own paragraph.
Much was made of the fact that CBS had one camera devoted to Johnny Manziel’s every move during the Texas A&M-Alabama showdown Saturday. There is always a camera on Woods. That might be one reason for Woods’ curiously high number of violations. Nobody notices if a lesser player has a ball-movement issue.
It doesn’t make any sense that he would find himself in this situation so often this season. But he has.
Woods believed the latest one was a wrongful conviction.
‘‘I was pretty hot,’’ he said of his meeting with rules officials after Friday’s round. ‘‘. . . I played the rest of the round, grinding my tail off to get myself back into the tournament, and then to go from five to seven behind, that was tough.’’
He was penalized two strokes at the Masters for dropping his ball in the wrong spot. Again, there was video proof. He either knew he was breaking the rule at the time or he was a 17-year PGA pro oblivious of the rule. But tournament officials let him off the hook by not disqualifying him.
This is a sport that prides itself on being a gentleman’s game, and players are expected to call penalties on themselves. But Woods said it never even occurred to him that his ball had moved Friday.
‘‘Not at all,’’ he said. ‘‘We all have been in the trees before. Things can move and do move. I just felt like I tested it and felt it oscillated in the same position, but evidently it didn’t.’’
Beginning with the sixth hole Saturday, Woods birdied six of seven holes to quickly erase the penalty from the round before. Maybe he was amped up having Sergio Garcia as his playing partner for the first time since Garcia’s controversial remarks in May. When asked if he would have Woods over for dinner at the U.S. Open, Garcia had said, ‘‘We will serve fried chicken.’’ When Tiger walked onto the first tee to the roar of the crowd Saturday, Garcia yawned.
They shook hands, and then it was all business.
‘‘I had a nice little run to at least get myself in there where I have a chance [Sunday],’’ Woods said.
Conway Farms Golf Club has been a floozy through the first three rounds, sporting a come-hither look golfers love so much. Brandt Snedeker used seven straight birdies to fire a 63 in the first round. Furyk had his 59 in the second, and Matt Kuchar shot 61 on Saturday.
Furyk shot a 69 on Saturday, 10 strokes ‘‘worse’’ than the day before. It’s nice to know that even the best golfers have wild scoring swings like the rest of us do. Sure they do.
But this was Tiger’s day, for better or worse. He also lost two strokes at the Abu Dhabi Championship in January when he took a drop from an embedded ball, only to find out he was standing on what was considered sand, making it a hazard.
That one was understandable. The other two? Hard to figure.