Despite being back to winning nearly every week he tees it up, Tiger Woods still finds himself being criticized. Did he drop in the right place (again) at the Players? Is he to blame for the spat with Sergio Garcia? Did he handle said spat properly?
We hate to pile on, but we can't help but question his boat attire (left), either.
Following his latest win, Woods was seen relaxing on his luxury yacht in Palm Beach, Fla., according to the Daily News. If you call this relaxing.
When choosing a Tiger Woods vintage, 2000, as they might say in Johnny Miller's Napa Valley neighborhood, was a very good year, incomparable, even. But what about vintage Tiger Woods?
Miller uncorked the possibility that that is where Tiger's game is headed. "He could be moving back into that 2000 year form for the first time," Miller said Saturday on the NBC telecast of the Players Championship.
On Sunday, Woods lent credence to the notion, by winning for the fourth time this year and third time in his last four starts. By way of comparison, Woods had three victories through mid-May of 2000, though he would go on to win six more times that year, including the remaining three major championships. It's a steep curve.
Still, it's an interesting observation, one that Miller based on the versatility that has returned to Woods' game. "I like what Tiger's doing," he said. "He's standing a little closer to it, a little more up the line and down the line, not swinging over to the left. Now he can hit the cut when he wants, he's got a straight ball on the normal shot, and he can play the draw."
The draw, the final piece for a shotmaker who prefers shaping the ball, was there on command late on Sunday afternoon. Clinging to a one-stroke lead, his tee shot on the 18th hole followed the route of the fairway, right to left. Then with the pin tucked in the front left corner of the green, he took a 9-iron and hit another draw to 18 feet above the hole. Game, set and unmatched.
"That's what he has over the field right now," Miller said. "He can hit the cut or the draw. All systems are go right now."
Maybe, but the caution flag remains out. The design of the TPC Sawgrass diminishes the need for the driver, which remains Woods' arch-enemy. He was ranked 154th in driving accuracy entering the Players Championship, and even on courses that call for the club more often, he tends to resist it.
Then there was that tee shot at the 14th hole while holding a two-stroke lead. It was straight off a muny, a pop-up hook that splashed down in the middle of a hazard. "I'm sorry, but I don't think Tiger 2000 hits that tee shot," fellow PGA Tour player Bob Estes wrote on Twitter.
Woods likely would concur. "On the 14th tee, that was the worst shot I could possibly hit," he said. Misfiring to that extent, while guarding a final-round lead, has never been part of his playbook.
It likely was an aberration. He still won by two and to do so in the Players might be disconcerting to the competition than his four victories. The Players has never been a gimme for Woods, the way other tour courses have been (eight professional victories at Torrey Pines, eight at Bay Hill). He had won it only once before, a dozen years ago.
Even more disconcerting might have been his succinct post-tournament assessment of his game.
The very private Woods doesn't let many people into his inner circle and even among those few, it's tough to pick a surefire candidate. Let's take a quick look at some of the possibilities:
Mark O'Meara: At one time, he would have seemed a lock for the job as Woods' close friend and mentor during the height of Tigermania. But Tiger and "Marko" haven't been seen together as much in recent years. Chance of happening: Doubtful
Fred Couples: Woods' buddy showed a lot of faith in him at his lowest point as a golfer when he selected Tiger as a captain's pick for the 2011 Presidents Cup. That being said, Woods attended the Met Gala in New York rather than be in St. Augustine for Freddie's big night. Chance of happening: Decent
Steve Williams: We're pretty sure saying you'd like "to shove it right up that black ass" when referring to your ex-boss is a permanent bridge burner. Chance of happening: Not happening
Butch Harmon/Hank Haney: Not that Woods harbors ill will towards them, but he'd view choosing either as a sign of weakness and a slight at his current coach, Sean Foley. Chance of happening: Not happening
Sean Foley: Woods' latest swing coach would certainly get the nod over his former big-name instructors. But if Tiger still hasn't won his 15th major by the time he's 40, well, let's just say he won't be as high on his current teacher. Chance of happening: Decent
Joe LaCava: Woods' replacement for Steve Williams is very supportive and keeps to himself more than his two predecessors. The duo needs to share a few major championship victories, though, first. Chance of happening: Doubtful
Steve Stricker: He's famously assisted Woods on the greens, so why not with his Hall induction? Stricker just better take two boxes of tissues up to the podium with him. Chance of happening: Good
Jim Nantz: He seems to do it for everyone else (Five times overall, including Fred Couples and Ken Venturi this year), so why not Tiger? On second thought... Chance of happening: Doubtful
Rory McIlroy: Tiger and Rory have developed a friendly rivalry. What a great gesture of sportsmanship this would be if they agreed to do the honors for each other's induction. Chance of happening: Give it a few more years
Michael Jordan: It was reported that the two global icons weren't as friendly following Tiger's 2009 scandal, but Woods recently attended Jordan's wedding. That being said, showering praise on someone else, especially another athlete, doesn't seem up MJ's alley. Chance of happening: Doubtful
David Feherty: Golf's top funnyman also happens to be very tight with Tiger. As long as he hasn't completely gone off the deep end by then, we think he'd be the perfect man for the job. Chance of happening: Great
So, there you have it. Our money is on David Feherty, a man who always gets Woods to give a good post-round interview and who apparently shares a love of fart jokes with the game's biggest star. There, we've even predicted the topic of his opening joke.
Welcome to another editon of The Grind, where we don't understand the shock surrounding Derek Ernst's win at Quail Hollow. So what if he was the fourth alternate and ranked 1,207th in the world. There are SEVEN BILLION people in the world. You're legit if you crack the top 2,000 in anything. Like we've said before, the PGA Tour's slogan should really be: "These guys are ALL good." As Ernst proved, that includes guys who aren't even in a tournament's original field.
Derek Ernst. To win in your eighth PGA Tour event is remarkable, but the way he pulled it off was even more impressive. Ernst shot a back-nine 33, including a birdie on the difficult 18th hole to get into a playoff he eventually won. We just feel bad for him for all the Ernst & Young jokes that followed.
Haha that's OK. No one else had heard of me either.
Playoffs. On a sports weekend in which the Kentucky Derby stole most of the spotlight, golf had a trifecta of its own. Ernst won in extra holes, but so did Cristie Kerr on the LPGA and Esteban Toledo on the Champions Tour. And speaking of Toledo, he became the first Mexican winner on the senior circuit and he did it on Cinco de Mayo. How's that for timing?
David Lynn. Yes, the Englishman came up just short in what is perhaps the least-star-studded playoff in PGA Tour history. But on the bright side, after a strong opening-day performance at Augusta and this latest performance, he's not just "that guy who finished runner-up at the PGA Championship" anymore.
Jim Nantz. We'll admit, we're not the biggest Nantz fans, but we have to give props to a guy who inducts two players into the World Golf Hall of Fame on the same night and who has now given the speech for five players total. Jimmy, when you get your Hall call, we've got your back. We'll start making notes and practicing your Masters voice.
Withdrawals. Yes, the greens were bad, but the list of big-name withdrawals -- Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter, David Toms, etc. -- was a little much. We're sure some of the nine guys who pulled out late (Derek Ernst should send them all thank-you notes) had legit excuses, but it sure didn't look good. Speaking of not looking good. . .
Quail Hollow's greens. We weren't fans of the excessive complaining and questionable WDs, but wow, were some of those greens brutal. To be fair, and most of the players were, Quail Hollow deserves a pass based on its track record. The good news is the course is putting in new Bermuda greens in a couple weeks and it has another four years before it hosts the PGA Championship.
World Golf Hall of Fame. If you're going to let two big-name, borderline candidates in (Sorry, Freddie and Monty), shouldn't you spread them out a little?
The Vijay Singh situation. This whole thing was just a mess from start to finish. First off, Singh admitted to using a banned substance. Yes, it has since been taken off WADA's list, but he admitted to using a banned substance while it was banned. It seemed like case closed, but the PGA Tour cleared him. Secondly, there's no real proof that deer-antler spray does anything!
Sunday TV coverage. Weather interfered with the PGA Tour yet again, but there's got to be a way to show live coverage instead of coming on tape-delayed an hour after anyone with electricity or a phone could learn the result. At least Derek Ernst had time to tell all his friends and family to set their DVRs.
The PGA Tour heads to PGA Tour headquarters for the Players. It used to be called the Players Championship. We don't blame you if you're confused.
Random tournament fact: There are 17 other holes at TPC Sawgrass' Stadium course other than No. 17.
WEEKLY YAHOO! FANTASY LINEUP
Our homer Wake Forest picks laid an egg last week. Sorry. Wait, what are we apologizing for? Some guy named DEREK ERNST won!
Starters -- (A-List): Sergio Garcia. His biggest win came here in 2008, a year after he was runner-up in the event.
(B-List): Zach Johnson. ZJ has broken par at TPC Sawgrass nine of his past 12 rounds and he finished T-2 last year.
(B-List): Bo Van Pelt. We're back on the "BVP is due for a win" bandwagon after a T-6 at Quail Hollow.
(C-List): Jason Day. After a close call at the Masters, the young Australian seems poised for his first big title.
Bench -- Graeme McDowell, Nick Watney, Luke Donald, and Lee Westwood.
THIS WEEK IN DUSTIN JOHNSON-PAULINA GRETZKY DISPLAYS OF PUBLIC AFFECTION
DJ sends Paulina flowers! What does the other Paulina pic have to do with anything? Nothing.
THIS WEEK IN TIGER WOODS-LINDSEY VONN DISPLAYS OF PUBLIC AFFECTION
We joked about golf's newest power couple's lack of public affection last week, but they stepped it up this week by attending the Met Gala in New York together. Several surprises here. A.) It had to happen sometime, but this was a pretty publicized event for the couple's big debut; B.) The timing of it, since it's both the week of the Players and it occurred the same night of his friend, Fred Couples, getting inducted into the Hall of Fame; C.) It appears Tiger is wearing NO Nike apparel!
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK
How bad were the greens at Quail Hollow last week? On the third hole on Friday, Sergio Garcia -- our pick to win the Players -- opted to chip a six-footer for par (below). He made it. Hey, we think we've found the solution to his putting problems!
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
-- Derek Ernst will not be recognized on the first tee on Thursday. By his playing partners: 2-to-1 odds
-- NBC, which owns the Golf Channel, will figure out a way to show live coverage on Sunday if tee times are moved up: LOCK
-- The phrase "watery grave" will get more air this week on NBC than during all other 2013 tournaments combined: LOCK
THIS AND THAT
A 12-year-old broke 80 in both rounds at the Volvo China Open, becoming the youngest golfer to ever play in a European Tour event. Yet somehow, ESPN UK wasn't impressed. We are not impressed with ESPN UK. . . . TPC Sawgrass has gotten so much rain of late that the famed island-green 17th hole actually was an island green at one point. Here's video proof. . . . Tying a bow tie is HARD. A group of friends took on the task to honor a buddy getting married and it was a struggle. I eventually did better than what's pictured (and also shaved and put on a dress shirt), but this effort came after more than an hour of hard work and a mini-nervous breakdown.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Who will give Tiger's Hall of Fame induction speech?
Why weren't we invited to the Met Gala? We can tie a bow tie!
When Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn first went public with their relationship, the 14-time major champion said, "We want to continue our relationship privately, as an ordinary couple." Apparently, he meant to say, "an ordinary celebrity couple."
Woods and Vonn walked their first red carpet together when they attended the Met Gala in New York on Monday night. US Weekly originally reported the couple's attendance and said Woods and Vonn were invited as guests of Vogue. The star-studded event was attended by Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, and Jennifer Lawrence, among others.
Vonn was part of Woods' gallery at the Masters, but the two hadn't made any public appearances together since their dating announcement. She wore red to support her boyfriend on Sunday and scaled Augusta's hilly terrain despite being in a knee brace from a recent skiing injury.
Woods hasn't played since the Masters, opting to skip last week's Wells Fargo Championship, an event he usually plays, at Quail Hollow. He will tee it up this week at the Players.
The saga of Tiger Woods' infamous drop at the Masters, an incident that wound up stealing the spotlight from 14-year-old Tianlang Guan making the cut and even Adam Scott's thrilling win for Australia, has a new twist. We now know the identity of the man who got the ball, um, rolling in the whole situation.
Sports Illustrated's Michael Bamberger reported Wednesday that Champions Tour player David Eger (below) was the person who first contacted tournament officials to inform them of Woods' illegal drop. Bamberger notes that, "Before joining the senior circuit, Eger had a long career as a tournament director with both the PGA Tour and the USGA. Along with Mark Russell of the PGA Tour and Kerry Haigh of the PGA of America, Eger is one of the most experienced tournament officials in U.S. golf and an expert on the rules."
In other words, this isn't your average guy who cut out of work early that day to watch a little golf.
The 61-year-old Eger was at home, but his trained eye caught the infraction right away. Convinced Woods had violated rule 26-1a, Eger, a four-time winner on the Champions Tour, watched and re-watched Woods take a drop and hit his fifth shot on the par-5 15th hole during the second round after his third shot had caromed off the flagstick and into the water. Without a direct line to Fred Ridley, the tournament's competition committee chairman, Eger frantically reached out to Mickey Bradley, "a veteran PGA Tour official who he knew was working the Masters."
That started a chain of events, which Bamberger describes further: "Bradley immediately called Ridley and Russell, the veteran PGA Tour administrator who is on the three-man Masters competition committee that is chaired by Ridley, a former U.S. Amateur champion and USGA president. Bradley also forwarded Eger's text to Russell and Ridley. In his text, Eger wrote that Woods 'didn't appear to play by Rule 26-1-a.' He wrote that he 'appeared to be 3-4 feet back' from his divot mark."
According to the story, Bradley forwarded Eger's text message at 6:59 p.m, when Tiger was still on the course.
Of course, we know what happened from there. Ridley looked into the matter and decided Woods hadn't broken a rule. He then decided not to discuss the matter with Woods before he signed his scorecard and left the course, thinking the matter was over. It wasn't.
In a post-round TV interview with ESPN's Tom Rinaldi, Woods informed viewers he had dropped "two yards" farther back for a better yardage. Eventually, that led to CBS' Jim Nantz calling Ridley later that night to ask about the situation. Woods was brought in to discuss the matter the next day, but Ridley and the tournament committee decided to assess him a two-shot penalty after the fact instead of disqualifying him since no one had notified Woods of a possible violation before he left the course on Friday.
It seems everyone, including Jack Nicklaus, who thought Augusta National acted appropriately, has weighed in on the situation since. But with new information coming to light, "Dropgate" remains an issue that still hasn't been dropped from golf's conversation.
Bamberger summed up Eger's role in the fiasco:
"It should be noted that Eger's call saved Woods from disqualification, because it spurred Ridley's incorrect interpretation, which was challenged by Woods's own comments to ESPN, which enabled Ridley to invoke rule 33-7, the one that allows wrongs to be righted."
More than a week has passed. The furor has died down. Everyone within golf's inner circle is breathing a sigh of relief that Tiger Woods didn't win the Masters. And thanks to a dramatic finish by a guy with movie star good looks, there were plenty of feel-good storylines to bury the lede on Woods' drop fiasco at the Masters. But as great as Adam Scott's sudden death playoff victory over Angel Cabrera was, the game of golf could use a mulligan.
It's time we turn the camera lens on ourselves. Photo: Karim Jaafar/Getty Images
It's easy to reflect on the excitement surrounding Tiger Woods' penalty -- as many have -- from a historical perspective: What would the greats of past generations do if in his situation? Would they withdraw despite being assessed a two-stroke penalty because it would preserve golf's tradition of "values"? Did Tiger Woods miss an opportunity to grow the game?
Yet, to talk about "growing the game of golf" requires an outsider's point of view -- an outsider who views much of the dialogue around golf as an echo chamber of (mostly) white (mostly) men questioning Tiger's mistake from a preemptive position of integrity.
I won't attempt to rehash everything that occurred on Friday and Saturday at the Masters, but if you're looking for a refresher, you can start here. As Nick Faldo repeated throughout the televised coverage, the modern era has given us a lot of gray area for rules interpretations. What is not in dispute, however, is that golf owes Tiger Woods -- at the very least -- the benefit of the doubt.
For better or worse, the 14-time major champion remains the face of the game to everyone without vested interest. And yet, as a thirtysomething fan holding the remote control, I watched Fred Ridley's press conference on Saturday morning devolve into a witchhunt for a scapegoat as those being paid to cover the sport demanded to know why the world's most famous golfer wasn't being kicked out of the world's most famous golf tournament. It was enough to make you think he was but a cog in the sport, not the man solely responsible for putting their stories on the front page.
These same journalists would later pen how ratings of the final round were up 26%, yet gloss over how it peaked about an hour before the telecast ended when Tiger's round was finishing up. This, by the way, has been case in every Masters he's played in. Think Adam Scott will captivate audiences that way? By comparison, weekend ratings for the years Zach Johnson (11.9) and Trevor Immelman (11.0) won the Masters surpassed the 10.2 ratings share we enjoyed in 2013. Not coincidentally, Tiger factored prominently in both of those final rounds.
Yet, despite every panicked cry about the state of the game, when given the opportunity to showcase the inclusion we want to believe golf employs, we step all over ourselves in an attempt to show how righteous we are.
Deadspin's Drew Magary accurately summed up the culpability when saying "Golf's self-congratulating rule-keeping is dumb. . . To anyone existing outside of that bubble, golf has a reputation for being elitist, racist, sexist, wasteful, expensive, and dickish -- a game played by cheaters, liars, crooks, frauds, and brats. It has no more integrity than any other sport, and this little Tiger episode has forcefully demonstrated the disconnect between how golf people feel about their sport and the reality of how it's played and by whom."
"Nicklaus and Jones would've withdrawn," tweeted one reporter. Another blamed the disconnect on a younger generation that doesn't feel a responsibility to adhere to golf's traditions. And Saturday's live telecast opened with 30-minutes of Jim Nantz in the Butler Cabin explaining why Tiger Woods was allowed to keep playing, paying no mind to the fact that Woods was actually on the course at that time. As someone following the story all morning, it seemed redundant. As a casual fan who was forced to wait until 3pm to see live coverage, it played out like water torture. It was enough to make you turn off the TV and go outside... And we might have... If Tiger Woods wasn't playing.
When the joy over Australia's first Masters victory subsides, and the conversation returns to the state of the game, I would implore everyone who reports on golf for a living to imagine themselves as someone who lives outside of golf's "bubble" fraternity -- and there are many -- watching the television coverage and seeing the game's only true superstar getting interrogated for hitting not one, but two shots of impeccable precision. In essence, for doing what he is paid millions of dollars to do. Even in loss, Tiger Woods demonstrated he is still the best at wielding a stick at a little white ball, and that is all anyone outside the game cares about.
-- Derek Evers is a Contributing Editor for GolfDigest.com.
AUGUSTA, GA. -- This is where it all started for Tiger Woods, the place where he first took over the No. 1 spot in the golf world, winning the 1997 Masters by a record 12 strokes at the age of 21.
A man of color wearing the champion's green jacket a mere half-dozen years after Augusta National GC first opened its doors to a non-white member made Woods more than a golfer and more than a sports star.
He became an instant international cultural phenomena.
What Woods accomplished here that week was about far more than golf, yet it also cannot be viewed solely as a cultural event. It was as if Jackie Robinson had integrated baseball in 1947 AND broken Babe Ruth's home run record in the same year.
This is also where Woods chose to restart his career after the scandal that rocked his life and ended his marriage. His first tournament after the Thanksgiving 2009 car crash was the 2010 Masters, and remarkably a rusty Woods finished T-4.
And he was hoping that it would be here, this week, that he would get his quest to break the record of 18 professional major held by Jack Nicklaus back on track.
But the drought continues. I thought coming into this Masters that it was the most important major championship Woods had yet to play in his career. A fifth green jacket would have placed Tiger within four majors of passing Jack and make it all seem doable.
To come away empty-handed from a course where he has had such great success in the first half of his career -- four wins in his first nine Masters as a pro -- is a huge setback for Woods.
The mountain got higher for Woods and now the questions will get harder after finishing T-4 at five-under-par 283, four strokes out of the playoffs between Angel Cabrera,Adam Scott and Steve Williams, the seriously disgruntled former caddie for Woods.
Now, Woods goes into the U.S. Open at Merion in June exactly five years removed from his last major -- the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines -- and winless in his last nine Masters.
Woods was never really in contention on Sunday, starting the day four back and never getting closer than three, although in his mind -- the mind of a guy with 77 PGA Tour wins and 14 major championships -- Tiger always thinks he had a chance to win.
"For the first eight holes, I think I left every putt short," Woods said after his two-under-par 70 played mostly in what ranged from a steady drizzle to a flat-our rain. "I thought 65 would win it outright today," Tiger said, and it turns out he was correct.
A 65 and Woods finishes at 10-under-par and wins by a stroke.
But that triple-bogey 8 on the par-5 15th hole Friday -- a birdie or eagle hole -- was the real killer. First he had the bad luck of hitting the flagstick with his third shot and having it carom into the water.
Then he was hit with a two-stroke penalty the next morning after rules officials, who initially deemed his drop to be legal, were informed of Woods' comments to the media that he had dropped his ball two yards behind the original spot he hit from in order to get a better yardage into the green.
"Well, we could do that in every tournament we lose and we lose more tournaments than we win out here on tour, so that's just part of the process," Woods said when asked if he has replayed the incident on No. 15 in his mind.
Asked about photos in a local newspaper that appeared to show that he hit both shots from about the same spot and thus should not have been penalized, Woods was adamant.
"No, I saw the photos," Woods said. "I was behind it."
Woods who won four of his first nine Masters as a professional and 14 of his first 46 major championships, has now gone 0-for-9 in the Masters and has not won in his last 15 majors, dating back to the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
The truly disturbing number in all this is that in those 15 winless majors, Woods has finished in the top-six eight times. A couple of those were like Sunday -- backdoor chargeswhen he really wasn't in contention -- but he's also had a chance to win a half-dozen times and has been unable to get it done.
"I played well," Woods said of this Masters. "I certainly missed my share of putts today, actually this week. Mentally, I'm hungry," he said. "I always give you that hunger, but seriously, I'm like hungry. I certainly had a chance," Woods said.
"If I had posted a number today, I was right there," Woods said with the determined regret of a champion.
He wasn't thinking of the hit flagstick or the belated penalty. He was thinking of the things he could control -- the missed putts and a few wayward drives.
The next major, the next chance for Tiger to gain on Jack, comes at Merion, the place where Ben Hogan restarted his career after the 1949 car crash almost took his life. Hogan won the 1950 U.S. Open there -- and six of the next nine majors he played.
Maybe Merion is where the magic will start again for Woods. Maybe not. In either case, he remains what he became that day at Augusta 16 years ago -- one of the most watched athletes in all of sports.
That Woods leaves the Masters empty-handed only increases anticipation for the U.S Open. The first chapter of this remarkable story was written at the 1997 Masters. The ending is a longways away.
The thought surely occurred to anyone recalling Adam Scott's inability to close out the British Open the summer before and CBS' David Feherty eloquently put it to words.
"The game of golf owes him one," Feherty said with Scott putting out on the 15th green in the final round of the Masters on Sunday, "but as we know the game of golf is a deadbeat debtor. It does not care."
Maybe it does after all. Scott erased the demons he took away from Royal Lytham & St. Annes last year and became the first Australian to win the Masters with birdie putts at the 18th hole in regulation and at 10 on the second playoff hole to beat Angel Cabrera.
When Scott holed the birdie putt at 18 in regulation that looked, for the moment, like it might deliver a victory, he shouted for joy.
"Did I just lip-read him, 'come on Aussies?'" Faldo asked. A slow-motion replay confirmed it.
"There's a great song at home called 'Come On Aussie, Come on,'" Australian native Ian Baker-Finch said. "That's what we've all been saying."
Here's the first verse, a fitting ode to Scott and Australian golf:
"It's been a long time comin'
"To silence all that drummin'
"To show them that it wasn't just a dream."
It was a day for Aussies, from start to finish.
Early, Jason Day holed a bunker shot for eagle on the second hole. "A few of the tea cups fell off the breakfast tables down in Australia on that one," Faldo said. "That will get everyone rocking."
When Scott holed the winning putt in the rain, Faldo summed it up neatly. "It's now official," he said. "He's the wizard of Oz."
An emotional Baker-Finch, who has known Scott since he was a kid, added this: "From down under to the top of the world."
They weren't there for tennis
When CBS cut to Masters starter Toby Wilt to announce the final pairing of Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera, Wilt was overhead asking the players, "All right, guys, ready to play a little golf?"
Wilt, incidentally, is a member at Augusta National, and a friend of Snedeker's. They partnered to win the pro-am at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Put down that phone
When Angel Cabrera was brushing leaves with his practice swings beneath a tree right of the 10th fairway, Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo seemed to be calling off the rules experts watching at home and waiting to catch players in infractions.
"He'd better be careful back there with those practice swings," Nantz said.
"He can't knock a leaf off," Faldo said. "Now with HD, we can see a leaf falling."
The HD reference is to high definition television, responsible for the new rule designed to protect the player from inadvertent rules infractions spotted on television, the same rule that kept Tiger Woods around for the weekend.
"You're really flirting with a penalty," Nantz said. "One of those leafs fall it would be a penalty."
He used to play like that with pressure
Peter Kostis after Tiger's second shot from the pine needles to the green at 13, leading to his third birdie in five holes: "Once Tiger kind of was out of it, there's been a freedom about his attitude and golf swing that has really taken over."
Dennis Miller, comedian and radio talk show host: "re CBS opening montage. Has the Masters become too meaningful to actually play it? Is Nantz performing Extreme Unction or announcing golf?"
It is no small task to fill 5 1/2 hours of pre-game show and sustain interest, but on that note Golf Channel on Saturday morning was handed a winning trifecta ticket: Tiger, the Masters and controversy.
The news that Tiger Woods was assessed a two-stroke penalty for taking an illegal drop on the 15h hole in the second round of the Masters provided ample fodder to fill the time with analysis and debate.
The leader in that clubhouse was Brandel Chamblee, who at the outset of the show, even before the penalty was assessed, argued that Tiger should "call this penalty on himself, to disqualify himself for signing an incorrect scorecard."
Woods had failed to take a drop as near as possible to the point from which he had hit his previous shot that wound up in a pond. Woods instead took his drop at least a yard behind the spot, while later admitting he did so for a competitive advantage.
Even after the two-stroke penalty was assessed, Chamblee held his ground.
"This is going to be the most controversial thing that follows him around for the rest of his career," he said. "This is a flagrant, obvious violation. Tiger, if he has read the rule and I'm sure he has by now, and he has seen the video and replay on it, it is incumbent on him to say he is in violation of 27-1A and disqualify himself. Anything else is frankly unacceptable."
He was not alone. David Duval wrote on Twitter that, "I think he should WD. He took a drop to gain an advantage."
Nick Faldo's opinion echoed Chamblee's, at least initially.
"This is dreadful," Faldo said. "Tiger is judge and jury on this. He said he moved the ball back two yards to gain the right yardage. The rule clearly states you have to drop it as close as possible to the original point of play. There was absolutely no intention to try to drop that as close to the divot. That's a breach of the rules, simple as that.
"He should really sit down and think about this and the mark this will leave on his career, his legacy...I think Tiger would gain massive brownie points if he stood up and said, 'you know you're right guys. I have clearly broken the rules and I'll walk. See you next week.'"
Each member of a studio panel -- Brad Faxon, Olin Browne and John Cook, the latter a close friend of Woods -- also agreed with Chamblee. "Even if they said you could play, I'd go [put the clubs away and] slam the trunk," Cook said.
Dissent came from Frank Nobilo, who argued that rules call for a two-stroke penalty and that, perhaps awkwardly the tournament committee ultimately got it right.
Chamblee had the final word: "Three players this year on the PGA Tour have been disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. It happens all the time."
Whatever side on which you come down, it was a spirited analysis and debate on a complicated issue that in an odd way simply heightened intrigue for a tournament that needs no hype.
Faldo on CBS
Late in the CBS' telecast of the third round, Faldo offered this on Tiger and the ruling:
"My instincts as a pro from my era, and I know some of my fellow pros would agree, that if you break the rules, sign an incorrect scorecard you're disqualified or you disqualify yourself. But we're in a new era now under new rules. Tiger's playing rightly under the new rules. I know myself, and some of the old pros, we have to accept that now."
Butch Harmon: "I believe he should have been DQ, he broke a rule and signed his card. They gave him a 2 shot penalty"