Sunday was a very good day for Masters champion Adam Scott. By extension, and because of the time difference, Monday was a very good day in Australia. A pair of nice developments, because Saturday gets recorded in the log as a very bad day for golf.
None of the role players in the Friday/Saturday saga of Tiger Woods are without blame, and there was plenty to go around. It won’t take any of the shine off Scott’s playoff victory, but it leaves a stain that even a second rinse through the washer might not remove.
First, the positives. Scott’s win will be a popular one. He is liked and respected by his peers, who have recognized his prodigious talents for more than a decade (his first PGA Tour victory came in Norton, at the inaugural Deutsche Bank Championship, in 2003).
He’s up to nine tour wins now, but finally has a major — and not long after his meltdown at the British Open, when he led by four shots with four holes to play. Leads like that aren’t lost very often on tour, but when they are, especially in a major championship, the hurt lingers.
Lytham will never be forgotten by Scott, but you can bet that experience helped him down the stretch at Augusta National, when he came from two strokes behind to put himself in position to win, then did win, holing a 12-footer for birdie on the second extra hole to beat Angel Cabrera.
On the surface, Scott has it all. Guys want to be him, girls want to be with him. ABC saw that and pounced, reaching out to the dashing Aussie to see if he wanted to be the star of the next “The Bachelor.” Sorry, ladies, he’s taken. Not married, but in a relationship, he acknowledged Tuesday.
The victory could pave the way for the next wave of Australian golfers, much as Scott watched Greg Norman become one of the best players in the world, winning — and losing — majors in dramatic style. Scott still remembers crying as a 6-year-old after Norman lost the 1987 Masters to a Larry Mize chip-in.
Australian golf could use the boost. Only four Aussies played last week, the smallest number in the Masters since 2002, Scott’s first visit. Golf interest seems to be slipping down under; on Friday, with Australian Jason Day playing the 17th hole and holding the lead, the network delivering the broadcast chose to cut away to a BBC children’s program.
That caused a small stink there, but nothing like the Woods situation here. Until Augusta National member and rules committee chairman Fred Ridley met with the media Saturday, there was a loud outcry for Woods to withdraw from the tournament because of the improper drop he appeared to take during Friday’s second round.
Once Ridley spoke, Woods wasn’t as much in the wrong as he was before, the attention diverted to the rules committee, which had an opportunity to speak with Woods after his round and before he signed his scorecard. Inexplicably, it felt confident that no violation occurred without questioning the player, a decision it would hopefully regret (although Ridley never said as much) as soon as Woods implicated himself in a televised interview.
Shame on the committee. Shame on Woods, who must know that he got away with a slap on the wrist for something that always results in much stronger discipline, and who could have taken a noble high road.
Shame, too, on the rule book. Golf is hard enough to play. When some of its rules are so confusing that even the game’s biggest icon gets it wrong, it’s not difficult to discern why the sport is still fighting a numbers problem.
That a complex rules mess involving Woods developed is bad enough, especially when it could have — and should have — been avoided. That it resulted in the perception that Woods may have been spared from the disqualification he should have received doesn’t pass the eye test, or the smell test.
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More Masters musings . . .
Maybe the best Masters-related story I read all week was by Charlie Warzel, who writes for a food blog called BuzzFeed. If you went to Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium, or TD Garden, how much do you think you’d pay for the following concession items: 10 sandwiches, four bottled waters, four sodas, two beers (one import, one domestic), a coffee, iced tea, banana, candy bar, ice cream sandwich, bag of potato chips, peanuts, crackers, and a cookie? At least $150, maybe even $200? Warzel (almost) consumed at least one of everything on the Masters concession menu in one day, Saturday’s third round. Cameras can’t be brought in, so he documented everything after his gluttonous day by taking photos of the receipts he was given for all seven food-and-drink runs he made. A review accompanies each receipt photo; Warzel raved about the peach ice cream sandwich ($2), but could have done without the chicken sandwich ($3) or sausage biscuit ($1.50). As for the total price, adding up all 29 items Warzel purchased? Only $53.50. Cheap food at the Masters. Indeed, a tradition unlike any other.
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Perhaps most impressive about 14-year-old Tianlang Guan? He was one of only two players in the field who did not have a three-putt green. Lee Westwood was the other. On the other end of the spectrum, Lucas Glover and Vijay Singh each had nine three-putts . . . Speaking of Guan, he has accepted a sponsor’s invitation to next week’s Zurich Classic in New Orleans. He has ties to the area, working with an instructor there last year and unsuccessfully trying to qualify for the US Open in Louisiana a year ago . . . After having the winner come out of the last final-round pairing in 19 of 20 years, it has now been three straight years in which the champion was not in the final group . . . Final-round television coverage gave CBS a 10.2 rating, up 26 percent from a year ago. ESPN, which televised the first two rounds, enjoyed smaller improvements.