A GRIP ON SPORTS • UPDATED: 11:15 A.M.
Believe it or not, a television viewer may have saved Tiger Woods' opportunity to win another Masters. Just by calling Augusta National. Read on.
• If you follow golf, you probably know that folks watching on TV have gotten involved in enforcing the rules over the years. The first time I remember it happening was long ago, when Craig Stadler put a towel on the ground to kneel on – trying to keep his pants clean from the wet conditions – while hitting a shot from under a bush. Stadler thought it was OK, but it was considered a violation for improving his stance. A viewer called Stadler on it and The Walrus, as he was known, was dinged with a penalty. Something similar happened Friday, after Woods had hit the flagstick on 15 and watched in horror as his ball caromed into the water. When he dropped a couple yards behind his original shot in order to have a better distance for his recovery shot, he broke a longstanding rule. A Masters viewer dropped a dime and ratted him out. And that actually saved Woods. See, the Masters' rule officials took the call seriously and checked the video while Woods was still on the course. My guess is it had to have been on someone's iPhone, because they did their best Mr. Magoo imitation and decided it was a perfectly fine drop. If they had done their job then, Woods would have been informed before he signed his scorecard, he would have watched the video himself and the mandatory two-stroke penalty would have been assessed with little fuss or bother. But the Masters officials decided not to say anything to the No. 1 player in the world and moved on. Until Woods ratted himself out in the post-match interviews. He admitted he had moved back to get a better number and that's a no-no. Now the Masters folks were stuck. Woods had to be assessed two strokes, there was no debate there. And he probably should be disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. But the powers-that-be at Augusta – and at CBS headquarters – certainly didn't want that. So the Masters folks fell on their swords and allowed Woods some leeway. Two strokes, yes. Disqualification, no. A Solomon-like decision. So should Woods have bitten the bullet and DQ'ed himself? Two of America's better columnists have differing takes on the issue, with the LA Times' Bill Dwyre saying yes and the Washington Post's Tom Boswell going the other way. No matter what, the controversy helps CBS – other than lead analyst Nick Faldo, who backtracked so fast on the air yesterday it seemed as if he was afraid to slip and fall on the bikini-waxed greens and suffer Gary McCord's Masters fate. People will tune into today to see if the great Woods can overcome the terrible injustice of a two-shot penalty and win another green jacket. Except it wasn't an injustice. It was appropriate. And that viewer who called in? If Woods wins, he should track the person down and give them a replica green jacket. Or maybe green pants. After all, they may have saved his …
• By the way, I discovered this incredible Masters story after I had posted this morning (thanks for the tweet Brian). But it's something you might want to read. It certainly is something that touched me.
• Washington State: The Cougars had enough players to hold a scrimmage yesterday, though the offense didn't show up for the first part of it. That's the thrust of Christian Caple's coverage, which includes a story in today's paper, interviews and notes on the blog afterward and today's blog post. … John Blanchette has an obit column today on former WSU basketball coach Marv Harshman that is worth reading a couple times.
• EWU: The Eagles' first scrimmage of the spring was a coming-out party of sorts for running back Mario Brown (pictured). Or a coming-back party. Jim Allen has the story.
• Preps: The Pasco Invite was held in Saturday's blustery weather and that probably kept the achievements a bit limited. Greg Lee was there and filed this story.
• Mariners: Joe Saunders (pictured) likes pitching in Safeco Field, shorter fences or not. But despite another solid outing from the veteran left-hander, the Mariners couldn't pick up the ball well enough and get enough clutch hits to defeat the Rangers, losing 3-1 Saturday. … Franklin Gutierrez felt some tightness in his groin and that means the M's were down to three healthy outfielders last night. And, no, we don't think said tightness will mean Gutierrez will miss two months. But you never know. … Dustin Ackley is going back to the past at the plate. … Larry Stone is back with his Sunday column – on the M's attendance – along with a notebook, awards and power rankings.
• Sounders: So much for his “guarantee.” Even Sigi Schmid going out on a limb isn't enough when you can't score. Such was the case with the Sounders yesterday against New England. A lot of early scoring chances wasted and a 0-0 tie as Seattle sinks slowly in the West. … Osvaldo Alonso would be playing for the US National Team, except he's a defector from Cuba and the communist nation won't give him a release.
• Sunday morning. Masters' Sunday morning. It happens once a year. And I need a favor. I am busy between 12:30 and 3:30 today, so I will have the DVR on the final round. If you see me, if you want to text me, if you have any inclination to tell me what happens at Augusta, please don't. After I get my work done, I will be racing home to watch the final round. Hopefully, in ignorant bliss of the outcome. Any one who mess with that bliss will face the wrath of an angry Italian man. You have been warned. Until later …