OK, I got a beef with the PGA Tour. Today Paul Azinger shoots a nice little 68 to put himself one shot off the lead in the Canadian Open. I realize the Canadian Open has no hope of being confused with the U.S. Open, but still a national championship is a national championship. Back in the early 70's they made a big deal out of the Canadian Open when Lee Buck Trevino sandwiched a victory there in between one at the U.S. and Bristish Opens. He was supposedly the first guy to hold three national championships at the same time.
Nonetheless, here is my beef.
Azinger's 68 was very quickly turned into a 70 when a TV viewer called in a penalty on Zinger's caddie! YES! HIS FRIGGING CADDIE! Fred Funk was playing a chip shot (that's right a mere chip shot) that had no hope of going in the hole when Zinger's caddie pulled the pin. The ball rolled exactly two more full turns after the pin was removed and yet still lacked a good four feet making it to the hole. But the rule book states that the flagstick cannot be removed (unless one calls for it to be "tended" before playing his shot) until the ball stops rolling. Appearantly Funk did not call for the stick to be tended. However, no one, I repeat, NO ONE even noticed at the time of the supposed infraction. That is, except some legalistic nerd who happend to be watching golf while he was catching up on his knitting. (Probably some Hot Springs Village jerk who originally hails from Chicago !)
In fact, my problem is not with the rules engaging nerd. My problem is with the spinless PGA Tour officials who were stupid enough to take the guy's call, and then were inept enough to exact the penalty AFTER Azinger's round was completely finished! Zinger had to be called into the TV trailer and shown the infraction on tape. Being the man that he is, Zinger accepted the penalty with much grace and said, "Maybe this will make me work harder tomorrow." But how would you like to be Zinger's poor caddie who pulled the boner in the first place? He may well have just cost himself and his boss several thousand bucks.
Why is it that golf is the only sport that allows this? Rules officials are on the spot and should have to make spot-calls just like all other sports officials. Umpires, referees, etc. all make calls in a moment and often make the wrong call. That is just part of sports. You get some of the bad calls - you lose some of them. They all even out in the end (unless of course you are Texas playing Arkansas at Austin.) Remember when the kid reached over the right field seats at Yankee Stadium a few years ago during the world series and garnered a home run that wasn't really a home run? We all saw it! Why weren't we allowed to phone in and have the call changed? I will tell you why! Because there is no call-in in baseball! Or football. Or tennis. Or bowling. Or hockey. Or any other sport for that matter!
The PGA Tour needs to grow themselves a set and make a rules change. Just like a guy has only five minutes to search for a lost ball, and only ten seconds to wait for a putt hanging over the lip, there ought to be a time limit on rules decisions. Why not do like baseball? When an appeal call is made in baseball it has to be made before the next pitch is delivered to the plate. Golf should have a rule that says appeals to rules breaches have to be made before the player puts his ball into play on the next hole. Once the drive is hit on the next hole, the matter becomes moot.
If you don't believe me, ask Paul Azinger!
It's all a matter of perspective.
Monday, September 08, 2003
More golf punditry from PGA expert, the Fatpop: