Tiger Woods’ rules violations would be far more serious on the European Tour

Warren Little

Tiger Woods might face more serious scrutiny for his string of rules violations if he were a member of the European Tour.

Tiger Woods won’t be joining the European Tour any time soon and he need only consider the case of Simon Dyson were he to have second thoughts about maintaining dual membership.

"Yeah, I thought about [joining the Euro Tour] years ago, back in the early 2000s when we had ... maybe eight events that were co-sanctioned [by the PGA Tour]," Woods told reporters Wednesday in advance of this week’s Turkish Airlines Open and after going seriously intercontinental with his driver from a bridge in Istanbul. "It was something that I did consider and decided not to do."

For any number of reasons, including the additional number of events he would have to add to his limited schedule to keep his playing privileges, it’s probably a good thing Woods eschewed full-time competition on the other side of the Atlantic.

Indeed, the world No. 1, who said he’ll add nothing more to his comments regarding the fracas with Brandel Chamblee, can be thankful that, as one of commissioner Tim Finchem’s troops, all he had to deal with was the Golf Channel analyst’s scorn for his "cavalier" treatment of the rules. Were he a card-carrying representative of the Euro Tour and in Nike stablemate Dyson’s spikes, the owner of five 2013 PGA Tour victories and four high-profile breaches of golf’s edicts could be facing a prolonged turn in the penalty box for his serial infractions.

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Dyson may receive a suspension from the European Tour on top of the disqualification from the BMW Masters he suffered for signing a scorecard that did not reflect a two-stroke penalty he incurred for tamping down a spike mark during the second round of last month’s Shanghai tourney, according to Alistair Tait. The reason the 35-year-old Englishman’s may get the heave-ho from the board of directors? Dyson’s two -- count ‘em, Tiger, two -- rules violations in the past four years.

Dyson, who said after his recent DQ that he had "never deliberately broken the rules either on this occasion or in the past," received the penalty and examination of his breach by the tournament committee for improving his lie (a violation of Rule 13-2) during the 2009 Portuguese Open, according to Tait. With some board members believing the golfer deserved a more serious punishment back then, a three-person tribunal will decide Dyson’s fate at some later date, Tait said.

Whatever befalls Dyson, he can add his name to an ever-growing list of players who would be wise to bone up on golf’s mandates so they can avoid similar situations in today’s social media-savvy world.

To recap:

  • Camilo Villegas was collared in Kapalua for moving a loose impediment.
  • Padraig Harrington got bounced from the 2011 Abu Dhabi Championship for signing a scorecard that did not include a two-shot penalty for shifting his ball illegally on the green.
  • Nick Watney and Matt Kuchar got tapped at TPC Boston for testing the ground in a hazard and taking an abnormal stance, respectively.
  • Tiger Woods -- well, you know.

It’s not just the guys who flub the rules. Michelle Wie has earned more than her fair share of penal strokes, among them a two-shotter for grounding a club in a water hazard during the final round of the 2010 Kia Classic and a DQ from the 2008 LPGA State Farm Classic for forgetting to sign her scorecard.

We hope Finchem was not just blowing smoke when he said, prior to the Tour Championship, that his organization would review whether or how to field communications from TV viewers eager to finger rules scofflaws. But that’s really another issue, since it’s up to the players to know the game’s laws and, with golf the vaunted test of integrity that so many tout it to be, cite themselves when they break them.

"As professionals, we have rules officials around us, we have people that we can ask constantly ... if there’s ever a doubt," LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam told SBNation during a recent phone interview. "We have them right there at our fingertips."

Even with such assistance, and given the seemingly endless scroll of rules delinquents, it would seem to behoove Dyson, Tiger, and their peers to attend the Dottie Pepper School of Golf Rules. Since, unfortunately, there is no such entity, golf’s governors are there to lend a hand.

"I attended a rules seminar with the USGA," Sorenstam said, noting that regular tutorials help her keep up with the ever-changing decrees.

"The golf rules are very complicated ... it’s a very complicated rules system," she said, noting that some of them make no sense at all. "I wish it could be less complicated; I think that would help everybody."

Chamblee and others may be interested to know, by the way, that European Tour chief referee John Paramor believes Woods to be "exceptionally honest," according to the November 4 issue of GlobalGolfPost. Paramor, the official Tiger blamed for causing 2009 Bridgestone Invitational playing partner Padraig Harrington to implode, was not so charitable when it came to Dyson’s recent faux pas.

The European Tour player, who withdrew from the Turkish tourney, perhaps to avoid what Derek Lawrenson suggested would be admonishment from his fellow competitors, committed an "extraordinarily and effectively inexplicable" act at the BMW Masters, Paramor told the Post.

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