I watch sports for the suspense that comes of not knowing the outcome. The longer a game of baseball or football is in doubt, the more I enjoy it. Thus, I was a bit worried late yesterday afternoon when the pack at the top was crumbling and it looked as though Tiger would pull off one of his usual victories by cruising past the physical and mental wreckage of his would-be opponents.
But then the Golf Gods intervened. Tiger was punished for being too accurate. His ball hit the flagstick, bouncing back into the pond fronting the fifteenth green. Later, he would bogey 18 to fall to -2 for the Tournament, four off the pace.
Meanwhile, other players stepped it up a bit late.
Sadly, two rules questions look as though they will dominate the talk of the second day.
The worst, in my mind, was the slow play penalty assessed to 14-year-old Tianlang Guan. While descriptions of the actions that led to his penalty seen fairly clear, I think a little more forgiveness would have made Augusta National a lot more friends. I’ve taught 14-year-olds for twenty years, and they just don’t have the same comprehension of time as adults. Further, many child psychologists even say that teenagers are simply incapable of properly assessing risk. You can threaten a kid with dire consequences, but they don’t believe it will happen to them. You can tell a kid if he texts and drives, he increases his chances of getting into an accident, but won’t believe it will happen to them. Telling a young teen that if he doesn’t play faster he will get a penalty is probably as effective as scolding a cat. He might feel intimidated by the scolding, but has no ability to comprehend in an adult fashion what you’re talking about.
If there was a mistake made here, perhaps it was in allowing him to play in the first place. Augusta might want to think about a minimum age.
The other I think is a non-starter. There’s lots of buzz that Tiger made an improper drop on fifteen after finding the water. I think he’ll be ok on three counts. First, I don’t think Tiger would cheat at Augusta. Second, Augusta doesn’t want another rules problem this weekend. And finally, Augusta doesn’t want another Roberto DeVicenzo story following them for decades.
The buzz is increasing, though. Lots seem to think it was improper. I’ll be gobsmacked, though, if he is DQd or withdraws.
UPDATE: I was both wrong and right on this one. I thought Augusta would rule “close enough” and avoid a controversy. Now, by giving Tiger a two stroke penalty, but not disqualifying him for signing an incorrect card, they made it worse. Apparently there is a rule we don’t know about … “except in cases where the player is a television ratings draw.”
On to other random thoughts …
Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia need sports psychologists. Or, if they’re already seeing one, they need a new sports psychologist.
Sad to me to see Lefty play himself out of contention.
I have a man-crush on Fred Couples.
The odds are pretty good right now that an Australian wins the Masters for the first time. In my fantasy picks, I had Adam Scott as the overall winner, so I’m happy about that. Scott is in a good position.
Looking forward to the rest of today. It looks as though there are some twenty players with a chance right now, and that’s exactly the competition I want.