AUGUSTA, Ga. – Rules officials from golf organizations around the world work at the Masters, most of them assigned various parts of the golf course. But it remains the only major championship that doesn’t have a rules official walk with every group.
Even more peculiar is that the Masters has the smallest field. With only 93 players this year, there were only 31 groups all four days – threesomes Thursday and Friday, and twosomes Saturday and Sunday for the 61 players who made the cut.
Could that change in light of the ruling involving Tiger Woods?
Woods took an incorrect drop on the 15th hole after hitting into the water in the second round. Fred Ridley, chairman of the competition committee, responded to a TV viewer calling in the violation and didn’t immediately recognize the mistake based on video evidence. It was only after Woods said in an interview said he dropped it 2 yards farther back did Ridley review the tape again. Woods was given a two-shot penalty, but not disqualified. Ridley invoked Rule 33-7, which gives the committee discretion not to disqualify. In this case, he felt Augusta erred by not presenting the evidence to Woods before he signed his card.
Ridley would not say if the Masters would have officials will each group next year. That likely would be up to Masters chairman Billy Payne.
”If there’s one thing about the Masters tournament … we look at everything,” Ridley said. ”And do that with the competition, so we’ll be looking at this situation. What could we do in the future? Is there any different processes we could employ? We look at the entire competition every year and try to get better.”
Then again, having a walking official doesn’t solve every problem.
The U.S. Open had a walking official with every group in 2001 at Southern Hills when Lee Janzen returned Friday morning to complete the first rround. There was dew near his ball, and he wiped off the area with a towel. Only after the round was over was it discovered he violated Rule 13-2 by removing dew in the area behind or to the side of his ball. Janzen signed for an incorrect scorecard, though he was not disqualified because an official was in his room and didn’t notice the violation.
It didn’t matter. That two-shot penalty caused him to miss the cut.
Golf Digest magazine wrote on its website about the case of Dow Finsterwald in the 1960 Masters, who discovered in the second round he was not allowed to practice putting at the conclusion of a hole. He had done that in the first round, and the Masters committee chose not to disqualify him, instead adding two shots to his score.
Finsterwald, the 1958 PGA champion, was working at Augusta last week, wearing a blue blazer as he officiated from the first hole.
ROOKIE CHANGES: Martin Kaymer is no longer eligible to win Rookie of the Year on the PGA Tour.
The PGA Tour board voted at its last meeting to change the eligibility. Previously, a player’s rookie season was the year he became a member (including special temporary members) and played in at least 10 tournaments as a member. The new regulation states that new members – such as Kaymer – will not be eligible for the Rookie of the Year award if they had played in more than seven PGA Tour events as a pro in any previous season.
”There have been cases throughout the years when a highly ranked, veteran player who has not been a PGA Tour member previously has been eligible for the award – a situation that can be confusing for fans and seems to go against the spirit of the award,” the Tour said in its newsletter to players.
It chose the seven events because that’s the limit for sponsor’s exemptions for players who are not members.
The most confusing situation was in 2010, when Rickie Fowler won the award over Rory McIlroy, even though McIlroy had the stronger credentials (starting with a victory at Quail Hollow). It was seen as a pro-American vote by the players, although it was confusing because McIlroy had played in all the majors and World Golf Championships the previous year.
Under the new definition, McIlroy would not have been eligible for the award in 2010.
Previous rookie winners have been Trevor Immelman in 2006 and Carlos Franco in 1999. Both won Rookie of the Year after having played in the Presidents Cup.
BEST WITHOUT A MAJOR: Lee Westwood can officially be considered the best player to have never won a major.
Sergio Garcia is right behind.
Westwood now has played 60 majors without winning, the most of anyone among active players. He has seven finishes in the top 3, including runner-up finishes in the Masters, British Open. He also missed a playoff by one shot in the 2008 U.S. Open and 2009 British Open.
He tied for eighth in the Masters this year.
Garcia has played in 58 majors without winning, and he has the distinction of the longest active streak of consecutive majors played at 55. Garcia lost the 2007 British Open in a playoff, and he was runner-up twice in the PGA Championship. He also tied for eighth at Augusta, despite a 66 in the first round for the outright lead.
Both are closing in on Tom Kite, who played 63 majors as a pro before he won the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach when he was 42.