Bill Elliott Masters blog: lucky Woods escape

GM's editor-at-large gives his latest Masters blog installment from Augusta National

Tiger Woods
(Image credit: Getty Images)

SO there you are then. There is one place it is okay to drop the ball incorrectly, gain an advantage, sign for the wrong score AND get away with it. At Augusta of all places.   This is the preening club where they celebrate the old game each year at the Masters, where they venerate the memory of Bobby Jones who in turn venerated golf while he was alive.   Look there are two views, possibly three on this astonishing episode.   1. The Augusta rules people came up with a stunning compromise between ordered justice as laid down by the rules and the unthinkable (for TV and sponsors) possibility of Tiger Woods being told to leave town.   2. The rules are simple enough (except for the new stuff in Rule 33) and TW should have been DQ'd.   3. What does it matter. Let's play golf. Yeah. Go Tiger. Etcetera.   Let's address this last thought. It matters because if the rules are bendable, flexible, discardable when it is inconvenient not to use them then we are lost somewhere disappointing. Fred Ridley is chairman of that rules posse and when I asked him if he had any doubts, if he was worried that a dodgy precedent had been set he said "No, I think we've set a good precedent". I couldn't disagree more.   It won't affect you and me but there are now some pros out there ( and don't think they are all nice fellas with clean hands on clean bodies) who will suspect thatb they can occasionally take advantage of a drop, that they might get away with it and that if they don't - EVEN IF THEY HAVE SIGNED THEIR CARD - then, hey, it's just a two stroke penalty.   Look, it's not the end of the world as we know it but it leaves a confused, rather sour taste, in this mouth.   Ridley says they reviewed the incident while Tiger was still playing the last couple of holes, thought it was okay and didn't tell him before he signed his card.   This last bit is incomprehensible to me. If they had spoken to Woods, if the player had said, yes, he had stepped back a couple of yards then he could have received the penalty, signed his card and cleared off knowing that he is not the smartest bloke ever to play the game.   Instead they hung him out to dry unintentionally and I suspect that it is their own sense of not having dealt with this incident competently that led to them desperately scambling around for the compromise they eventually found.   But two wrongs do not make a right. Never. Ever. Not at Augusta National, not at your local club. This was a bad day for golf. If only Tiger had been cute enough to realise that the gods had handed him a perfect opportunity to complete his rehabilitation from that firestorm of sleaze a few years ago. The world, the thinking part of it, would have applauded.   But he didn't. Instead he may now win this Masters. Hell, at this one I'd prefer even Angel Cabrero to win than Tiger. Well, almost anyway. Enjoy the last day. As a rule, it's usually quite exciting.

Editor At Large

Bill has been part of the Golf Monthly woodwork for many years. A very respected Golf Journalist he has attended over 40 Open Championships. Bill  was the Observer's golf correspondent. He spent 26 years as a sports writer for Express Newspapers and is a former Magazine Sportswriter of the Year. After 40 years on 'Fleet Street' starting with the Daily Express and finishing on The Observer and Guardian in 2010. Now semi-retired but still Editor at Large of Golf Monthly Magazine and regular broadcaster for BBC and Sky. Author of several golf-related books and a former chairman of the Association of Golf Writers. Experienced after dinner speaker.