Beyond Reproach

Tiger Woods was one stroke behind on the 16th hole at the Bridgestone International and paired up with the leader Padraig Harrington. As always I was pulling for Tiger, who I regard as the greatest player to ever play the game. I figured the par five 16th hole to be Tiger’s best chance for catching up to and perhaps even passing his opponent. I was hoping something would happen. Something did happen on that hole that helped Tiger to take the lead but it was something I wished had not occurred, and apparently Tiger agreed.

The thing that changed the course of the tournament at that time was the fact that the players were both informed at that point that they were now on the clock. The tournament had fallen behind schedule and they were in danger of not finishing by the projected 6 p.m. finish time. As a result, at that point both players were given just 45 seconds to take their shot from the time they reached their golf ball or they would risk taking a one stroke penalty. Given that both players hit their first shot into the rough on that hole, this undeniably altered the pace of the game. Harrington, who at that time, had succeeded in playing the entire day without getting a single bogey, was forced to rush his shots and as a result ended the hole with a triple bogey. Given the fact that Tiger birdied the hole, what had been shaping up to be a battle of the ages to that point, for all intents and purposes, ended on the 16th hole.

After the tournament was over, Harrington took great care to avoid criticizing the decision to put the players on the clock at such a crucial time. In the post game interview he hemmed, hedged, and stuttered to the point that the interview was painful for me to watch but his reticence was for good reason. Players who criticize the officiating run the risk of incurring the wrath of the PGA which can mean serious fines (by serious I mean to say I have no idea how much because the PGA does not disclose the amount of their fines). Tiger Woods, however, after congratulating Harrington on his play criticized PGA rules official John Parmor saying “I’m sorry that John got in the way of a great battle.”

An anonymous source initially claimed that Tiger Woods was being fined by the PGA for his remarks but it is a report that Tiger Woods later denied, saying the report of his fining had been erroneous. Interesting, although unwilling to criticize the official’s action himself, Padraig Harrington later commented favorably on Tiger’s criticism saying “he’s in a better position than I am to do that.” Translation: financially, Tiger is better able to absorb a potential fine than I am so therefore he is more free to tell the truth. (I of realize of course that Padraig Harrington is not in fact a pauper but how many millions does one have to have before the prospect of incurring fines worth perhaps tens of thousands of dollars becomes unremarkable?)

I applaud Tiger Woods for speaking up for his opponent in the spirit of sportsmanship and his desire for a game unaffected by the exigencies of TV time. I sincerely deplore the rules of the various professional sporting leagues prohibiting players from criticizing the officiating of games. I of course acknowledge the right of the various sports leagues to do so as employers are free to create codes of conduct for people in their employ, whether the organization is Jack in the Box or the PGA. I don’t like the rule however as the fact is that sometimes officiating does play a key role in sporting contests and I think that the sports leagues would not crash and explode if athletes were permitted to discuss the issue intelligently and respectfully. I sincerely implore all the professional sports leagues to remove or revise the rules to permit criticism of the officiating that is not otherwise profane.

That said, kudos to the greatest golfer of all time. I already liked Tiger Woods before this tournament and now, after his willingness to speak out in defense of his opponent on what he considered to the the integrity of the contest, I like Tiger Woods even more. Hooyah!

Now just go out there and win the US Open this weekend 😀

7 Responses to “Beyond Reproach”

  1. Kristin says:

    I think the players in any sport have the right to vent their frustrations. I ref basketball part-time in a rec league my husband refs part-time with different school districts and it is a very difficult job. You are given a book yay thick and you have to memorize every last possibility that can occur. I remember feeling so bad for Ed Hockely last year when he made a miss call. He is a great ref and does a really great job from what I can tell on the field but that one call got him pulled from the playoffs. I understand players frustrations but players only focus on one aspect of the game and a ref has at least ten other things they are looking at all at once.

  2. mexi says:

    One of the sad things about being a ref (I’ve never been one but I’ve deduced this from watching so much sports) is that when a ref has a perfect performance it almost necessarily goes without notice. The only time a ref is noticed is when there is a blown call and that is truly sad. It’s kind of like being a man in a Terry McMillan novel, you only get to be the villain, never the hero.

    (ducking for cover)

  3. Kristin says:

    It’s kind of like being a man in a Terry McMillan novel, you only get to be the villain, never the hero.

    ^^^ LMAO! For real! She does write really horrible novels almost as bad as Stephanie Meyers.

  4. mexi says:

    To be honest I never read any of her books, the accusation that she portrays men negatively is a criticism I read somewhere else. I actually think it’s an unfair criticism because everybody who writes does so from their own worldview. For example, in 1994 I wrote a story I was going to try to get published but I abandoned the idea when I ascertained I could write a much better one if I really tried. Anyway in my story the character based on my then girlfriend died on page 3. When she read it, she asked “Why did you kill me off on page three?” I said “My book, my bias.” In my defense the story was a murder mystery so there had to be a dead body and I was very upset with her at the time 😀

  5. Phelps says:

    Heh heh mm heh mm heh stroke behind hhmm heh mm heh mm mm heh

  6. Phelps says:

    And as someone who refereed a lot of youth soccer, the players/coaches notice and will thank a good ref, but the observers almost never do.

  7. Kristin says:

    @Phelps

    I had a parent come up to me one time after a game and say good game, but that was the only time I had a parent say thank you. BTW she was a woman too.

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