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PGA Tour Confidential: Stenson's Big Win, TV Viewer Violations and Our Player of the Year Picks

Tiger Woods, Tim Finchem
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Tiger Woods has been involved in three major rules situations this year; Tim Finchem called the situation "difficult and awkward."

3. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said that the Tour is taking a look at how it handles TV viewers calling in rules violations. What --  if any -- changes should the Tour make to its viewer call-in policy?

SHIPNUCK: None whatsoever. It’s sui generis to the sport and one of the most morbidly fascinating facets of tournament golf. Let’s face it, a tourney is contested among 156 players across 200 acres -- some penalties are going to go undetected by the competitors themselves. If the goal is to truly protect the field, then armchair rules officials are indispensable.

PASSOV: Eliminate any prospect of TV viewers being able to phone in and change the outcome of a live sporting event, period. I'm tired of this "protecting the rest of the field" argument. This process is unfairly weighted against the stars who are on camera the most.

MORFIT: The problem is viewer call-ins affect Tiger, who is on TV all the time, way more than, say, Luke Donald. What if the Tour had its own pool of viewers, rules experts who could watch the telecast and call in stuff that looks iffy?  That's essentially how the Masters situation came about with Tiger and former rules official David Eger, who called Augusta National after seeing Tiger’s drop on TV.

SENS: Get rid of it. In theory, it's not a problem, but in practice, it's an unfair mess because not all players get the same amount of TV coverage. What's more, this isn't American Idol. We shouldn't need to tap into a vast television audience to make decisions. Putting an attentive rules official (or two, or three) with every group should do the trick.

GODICH: The objective should be to get it right, so I'm all for allowing viewers to phone in alleged rules violations. Let's just put a deadline on it.

WALKER: Let viewers call in violations (it’s not like they’re deciding if the ground caused a fumble), but don’t disqualify guys for signing an incorrect scorecard if they didn’t know about the penalty when they signed their cards. That’s demented.

BAMBERGER: There could be situations where HD TV picks up on things that the naked eye does not, and the player should not be penalized for that. Graeme McDowell's situation may have been one of those. Tiger Woods's was not.

RITTER: I've never been in favor of fans phoning in to directly influence an event's outcome. That's Dancing With the Stars, not professional sports. Golfers have walking rules officials, their fellow playing partners, and their own conscience to police things. That's enough for me.

4. The AP reported that a few players privately mocked Tiger Woods' assertion last week that his ball didn't move but only oscillated when he was penalized at the BMW Championship. Has Woods lost the locker room over his rules mishaps this year?

BAMBERGER: Well, I don't know about the locker room. But he's lost me. He's put himself above the game, and he doesn't need to. He's already won.

GODICH: Tiger's actions reek of desperation. I wonder what Earl would say.

SHIPNUCK: If not yet, he’s certainly on the verge. Certainly what happened in Abu Dhabi and Augusta were honest mistakes. Woods deserves the benefit of the doubt per the drop at the Players. But his stubborn refusal to acknowledge the obvious at the BMW strains his credibility. If he’s so certain his ball merely oscillated -- which can happen on a smooth, slick green but is much more unlikely on an uneven lie among twigs -- he should have refused to accept the penalty. He would have been DQ’d but I would have respected him for taking a stand.

MORFIT: Tiger was never the warm and fuzzy type, plus he's had so much success, a little resentment was inevitable.

PASSOV: Woods' other mistakes were of the "it could happen to anybody" variety. His Masters snafu may have even earned some sympathy. Oscillate-gate, however, just doesn't seem defensible right now. He likely still has the locker room because of what he's achieved, but this one is an absolute head-scratcher.

RITTER: He probably lost a few guys, but overall there's enough elder statesman in the locker room to help with damage control. I think Tiger's rules controversies from this season will fade, as long as he doesn't continue to add to them. But stubbornly arguing that his ball at the BMW didn't move-- when video replay showed it clearly did -- was easily his low point of the season.

WALKER: Probably. Golf fans are looking more closely at Tiger after his rules misadventures this year, especially the Masters non-DQ and the generous drop at the Players, and his fellow players can’t be that much different. Stricker and Furyk defended Tiger after oscillate-gate but they didn’t sound especially impassioned about the issue.

SENS: Tiger lost parts of the locker room a long time ago, so this is nothing new: just more reason to grumble for those who already had a beef with him. But what's with the private mocking? Have the guts to say it publicly.

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