No. Let's get the silliness about Tiger Woods voluntarily withdrawing from The Masters because he unknowingly broke a rule out of the way first: No, no, no, no. There's no reason for Tiger to "disqualify himself," as I've seen written and said, and take the "high road" out of Augusta.
This is all a bunch of bull. To understand why, we need to go all the way back to the chain of events that got us into this mess. On Friday at 15, Tiger Woods hit a perfect shot. Really, his approach into the green was perfect. It was just ... unlucky.
That's a really good shot. So good that it hit the stick and ricocheted back into the water. But it was really good. It was so good that Tiger wanted to hit it again. So he dropped the ball pretty near to where he originally struck his third, took a little bit off his swing and stuffed his approach after the penalty -- and didn't hit the pin. We all marveled at his recovery and went about watching the rest of his round.
Except someone picked up the phone, called Augusta National, and said Tiger dropped his ball too far back.* Officials investigated and determined Tiger was fine before the end of his round. They did their due diligence at the time. He signed his scorecard and then gave an interview in which he said this:
Q. How hard is it, that second shot on 15 after getting a bad break like that?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I went down to the drop area, that wasn't going to be a good spot, because obviously it's into the grain, it's really grainy there. And it was a little bit wet. So it was muddy and not a good spot to drop. So I went back to where I played it from, but I went two yards further back and I took, tried to take two yards off the shot of what I felt I hit. And that should land me short of the flag and not have it either hit the flag or skip over the back. I felt that that was going to be the right decision to take off four right there. And I did. It worked out perfectly.
And therein lies the problem. Tiger told on himself without realizing he was telling on himself. A man trying to hide an illegal drop doesn't describe said illegal drop to the media without prompt. His defense here -- and what allows him to continue playing with a two-shot penalty and not a disqualification -- is ignorance combined with the committee reviewing the shot at the time and deciding not to penalize him. The rules officials cleared him, he didn't know, and only after the card was turned in did he unknowingly describe a violation.
Which brings us to the fun morality argument of the day. In order to preserve the integrity of the game -- the integrity of Augusta National -- Tiger must "disqualify himself." He must do what's right and honorable and what golfers a century ago would've done. He must, as an ambassador and legend, set an example for the future golfers.
All of the above paragraph is crap, and it's all silly. Don't ask me what Jack would do. Don't tell me what you think Arnold Palmer would do. And don't lecture anyone about what Tiger should do.
What Tiger wants to do -- and what I can almost guarantee he's thinking about, angrily, right now -- is win the damn tournament. Jack, Arnie, Tiger and every other legendary golfer are competitors. They play to win. They enter tournaments to win. And I'm sure all of them have encountered a point where they unknowingly broke a rule -- there's a lot of them, and many are confusing. Tiger's just a bit more visible, and people are more inclined to pick up a phone while watching a tournament now.
There's no reason for Tiger to withdraw from the tournament. None. And if you're falling into the trap of Tiger needing to bow out to be honorable or protect the integrity of the game, stop it. This isn't about taking a stand.
In fact, it's about nothing more than golf and what happens on the course. It's not about a social statement, taking a stand, or doing a damn thing for future generations. Tiger is here to win, and he's going to take his penalty, probably be pretty angry about it, and try to win the damn tournament. And that's fine.
If you're crowing for him to be an ambassador for the game, you can stop now. He broke a rule, and another rule kept him from being disqualified. That's what funny about the rules of golf: there's a lot and they're confusing. And sometimes, a golf legend accidentally breaks one. That's all this is, nothing more, nothing less.
It doesn't need to be turned into anything more, so please stop calling for Tiger to bow out gracefully.
*Why must you call in penalties? Golf is the only sport I can think of where fans pick up the phone and tell on players for seemingly innocent things -- things the players and rules officials don't realize at the time. If you're that guy at the local muni that knows every rule and tells on everyone during a Saturday round, odds are you've been accidentally hit by a cart once or twice. Stop telling on people and just enjoy the tournament.