In a tradition that’s truly unlike any other, it was a tip from a viewer that alerted Masters official to a rules violation by Tiger Woods that ended up in a two-stroke penalty for him Saturday.
The identity of the viewer is not known, but at least one viewer — let’s call him an “interested party” — posted a funny little Facebook note and tweet.
No problem Masters tournament happy to call in and help. You always have to keep an eye on those cheaters ;)yhoo.it/Zh7TBu
— Thomas Vonn (@ThomasVonn) April 13, 2013
That would be Thomas Vonn, the ex-husband of skier Lindsey Vonn. Yes, she’s now the girlfriend of — wait for it — Tiger Woods.
It’s a nice little bit of humor. But even though the whistleblower’s communique, coupled with Woods’s statement about moving the ball, prompted the penalty, that may be as much as we ever know. Still, it’s a little weird that anyone can call a tournament, as Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel found out.
…[H]ow does some guy on his couch advise the Masters, played at Augusta National – merely one of the most exclusive clubs in the world and host of one of the sport’s grandest championships – that Tiger Woods just screwed up?
“You just call Augusta National and ask for the scoring officials,” a receptionist in the press building told Yahoo! Sports on Saturday.
So the guy just called and got patched through to the actual scoring officials?
“They may have called him back, but we don’t comment on that or any of the specifics of the investigation,” she said.
The Masters would not reveal who the caller was, where the call came from or any other detail.
Fred Ridley, the former president of the U.S. Golf Association and the chairman of the Masters competition committee, said Saturday that Masters officials “get dozens of these calls every Masters. You don’t hear about them because most of them do not amount to anything. … This is really a fairly normal occurrence during the tournament.”
The New York Times reported that a rules official received a text message from a friend. Now, though, the curtain has been pulled back on the whole fascinating process. Bubba Watson, the 2012 Masters champion, said, the via the Times that, players paid little attention to investigations generated by viewers because they were so frequent.
“Our sport is the only one you’d ever allow viewers to do that,” Watson said. “They’re definitely not calling about missed balls and strikes during a baseball game or if someone’s getting away with holding during a football game.”
Because so many people play golf, as opposed to football or baseball, they offer their two cents to several places, the Times reports. In addition to the tournament that’s being played, they call the PGA Tour and the USGA. After all, the numbers are listed.
“They must have a lot of time on their hands,” Watson said. “Because I don’t know the phone number to call, and I’m playing in the golf tournament.”
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