No one is above the rules

Rules.

Every sport has them (although Vince McMahon – excuse me, Mr. McMahon -still hasn’t answered my request for a WWE rulebook.)

Yet, sometimes even those who play by a quite specific set of rules don’t understand them or tend to ignore them.

Take the two high-profile rulings that Masters officials were forced to make on Friday.

First came the one-stroke penalty for slow play assessed to 14-year-old Chinese sensation Tianlang Guan.

One could see his shoulders literally slump when a Masters official informed him of the penalty, which at the time might well have kept him from making the cut and playing on the weekend.

But, as harsh and cruel as it seemed, it was a correct ruling.

Guan previously had been warned for his slow play, and had been told he was being placed “on the clock.”

Yet, he continued to back up those playing in the groups behind his. Thus, the penalty.

Fortunately, he managed to make the cut and even though he had a rough day on Saturday, he already had impressed us all not only with his skill – he was the only amateur to make the cut -but more so with his poise and the way he handled himself.

As high-profile as was the penalty assessed Guan, it barely made a ripple compared to the hubbub that occurred when it was announced that Tiger Woods was being assessed a two-stroke penalty for not following the rules during Friday’s round.

Woods’ third shot on the par 5 No. 15 hole hit the flag and proceeded to land in the water.

He then took his penalty drop two yards behind the original shot, a rules violation, yet one that wasn’t immediately caught.

It may well have been Woods who brought attention to the matter during his post-round press conference.

There are numerous conspiracy theories, including it was CBS announcer Jim Nantz who initially alerted Masters officials.

It really doesn’t matter how officials found out. Once they did, they had no choice but to assess Woods’ a two-shot penalty.

They could have gone even further, disqualifying Woods from the tournament for signing an incorrect scoreboard but that not only would have killed the TV ratings (yes, even for the Masters), but also would have caused social implications.

Woods should have known the rule and he should have followed it.

It was his action that caused the entire mess, which dominated Saturday’s headlines more than the third round of action.

The two-stroke penalty has left Woods five shots out of the lead heading into today’s final round.

Given the quantity and quality of those ahead of him, Woods’ chance of winning a 15th major title today is virtually nil.

No matter who winds up putting on the coveted green jacket, let’s hope the winner follows the rules.

Contact Dave Poe at dpoe@newsandsentinel.com