3. Everyone's had time to digest Tiger's infamous drop on the 15th hole Friday. Did the Masters make the right call by penalizing Tiger for the illegal but not disqualifying him from the tournament for signing an incorrect scorecard?
Van Sickle: I can shrink the Tiger issue to one sentence. Yes or no, did he sign for an incorrect score? The answer is yes. Therefore, he should've been disqualified, just like everyone else in golf history who's done the same has been. Big mistake by the Masters.
Morfit: Not at all. That one was botched by everyone involved, especially the rules committee and Fred Ridley. I'd have believed them if they gave me one reason why he wasn't disqualified, but they kept trying to throw stuff against the wall and see if anything might stick. "The rules are the rules," as Tiger said of Guan -- except when they're inconvenient to apply.
Gorant: Right or wrong it's a totally legit call within the rules, or Rules if you prefer. Just as Tiger didn't question the ruling against him, he has no reason to question the one in his favor. The rules are the rules, end of discussion. It doesn't seem fair when someone gets a free drop when they hit it so far off line that it goes behind the grandstand but that's how it works.
Lynch: Absolutely not. Tiger admitted in his post-round comments Friday that dropping the ball a couple of yards away from his original position helped him take a little off his next shot. He acknowledged that he gained an advantage in the process of violating a rule. Forget what his intent was. That has zero bearing. A drunk driver may not intend to cause an accident on the way home from the bar, but that doesn't mean there should be no sanction. He broke a rule and gained an advantage, then signed for an incorrect score. Nothing else matters. He should have been DQ'd.
Godich: I would have DQ'd him for signing an incorrect scorecard, but I suppose officials gave Tiger an out by not approaching him before he signed his card. How do you not take every precaution in that situation? On a side note, it continues to amaze me that players and their caddies either don't know the rules or are careless when addressing them.
Ritter: This is the right question to ask, because the Augusta rules officials are the ones who really botched this. In their statement Saturday morning, they essentially ruled that, because they didn't notice the violation before Tiger signed his card, they were responsible for the error, and a DQ was unjustified. Since when is a player not responsible for himself? By not DQ'ing Woods they created a new precedent that in the process made it look like they gave him preferential treatment. And they passed the buck to Tiger, who had to decide for himself whether to withdraw. My hunch is that TW didn't need long to make that decision.
Reiterman: I think they made the right decision. If this had happened to Tianlang Guan, or anyone else not named Tiger Woods, we'd be yelling about what an outrage it is to DQ someone for a minor rules infraction. But since it happened to Tiger, it was amplified. I think the DQ should be saved for blatant cheating, not misinterpreting the rules. And Woods still paid a heavy price. That penalty put him behind the 8-ball for the rest of the tournament and he never recovered.
Wei: My real issue is why the heck did Tiger not know how to make a proper drop from a water hazard? This is such a basic rule of golf!
4. Tiger ignored calls for him to withdraw over the incident. Have your feelings about Tiger changed at all this week? Do you think he wins the Masters if he doesn't hit the flagstick with that approach shot on Friday?
Lynch: These days Tiger needs to play his best to win a major, which didn't used to be the case. He wasn't playing his best and I don't think was likely to win this week. He hasn't broken 70 in the Masters in years, struggles with shots that require a draw at Augusta National and his putter was cool. Not a good combination. As for my view of him, nothing has changed. A terrific golfer, but tone deaf when it comes to matters of grace or humility.
Van Sickle: Tiger's flagstick episode cost him maybe three shots -- two for the penalty, one for the birdie he didn't make. That would get him to 8 under, one off the playoff, but more important, would get him right in the grill of Scott and Cabrera. That might've made a difference. But golf would've never lived down the ensuing asterisk or my name isn't Barry Bonds Gorant: Don't know if he would have won, but it sure would have been fun to see him try.
Reiterman: It's a big leap to hand him the green jacket, but there's no doubt it completely changed the tournament for him. He was in control of his game, about to take the lead, and then he watches his ball fall in the water. Had to be a huge shock to the system, even for a 14-time major champion.
Godich: Withdrawing would have done more for his reputation than any victory. We'll never know how things would've played out if not for the bad break, but I will say this: That tournament was there for the taking when Tiger stepped to the first tee on Saturday, and even after opening with a birdie, he couldn't answer the call. We saw much of the same last year. This is becoming a troubling trend.
Morfit: I still think Tiger seems a little different than he has in the past -- happier, somehow. And I'm optimistic about that. I will never stop trying to like him and giving him more chances, because I think people never stop changing and it's never too late until we're dead.
Ritter: My feelings about Tiger didn't change this week. Had he withdrawn, it would've been a huge boost for his image, but I don't begrudge him at all for continuing to play after catching a break. If you subtract four shots from his score (two for hitting the flag and going from kick-in birdie to bogey, and two for the penalty), he finishes at 9-under, which would've tied the leaders in regulation, but I still don't think he would've won. He didn't make nearly enough putts under pressure on Sunday, and pressure-putting continues to be his weakness in majors. It just feels like he wants it too badly.
Wei: No, my feelings about Tiger have not changed. Fire hydrant, Perkins waitress, rules ... apparently Tiger forgets the rules at times. Anyway, Tiger shouldn't have hit the flagstick in the first place. The ball was coming in too hot.