It doesn't matter what Sergio Garcia says next. It doesn't matter that he was quick to issue an apology. A "fried chicken" jibe in the direction of Tiger Woods is instinctively read in a certain way and it doesn't read well. It will stay with Garcia for the rest of his career.
The Woods-Garcia spat got ugly on Tuesday. Sergio saying Tiger was right to call him a "whiner" and that it was the first honest thing he'd said in 15 years was amusing; Sergio inviting accusations of racism with a stupid comment in front of gathered European Tour players and officials was nothing of the sort.
Sergio has never had much of a filter. He prides himself on being "truthful" and said this week his honesty is why "most of the people love me and some hate me". He may find a good few more in the latter category after what he said at Wentworth.
This was always a feud that meant more to Garcia than Woods. Tiger's 14 majors and his habit of putting Sergio in his place on the golf course have done most of the talking for his side. When asked whether he'd made a call to Garcia after their most recent clash at the Players, Woods' refused to indulge the matter further. "No", was all he had to say.
Sparks may fly if these two are paired together in the near future
Garcia would have done well to follow his lead. Instead, he played to the audience at Wentworth and tried to give them what they wanted - another shot at Woods. But with the "fried chicken" remark he both insulted his bitter rival and embarrassed the entire room - not to mention all those with a financial stake in his career.
BMW, sponsors of this week's PGA Championship, must be fuming. Their prestigious event has now been overshadowed by what will widely be defined, intentional or not, as a racial slur from one of its star attractions against the most famous golfer in the world.
Before yesterday we were tempted to take Sergio's side. After this, it's Woods with the moral high ground and in comparison to the Spaniard he's coming across as a man of integrity and class. His response on Twitter was measured and spoke to his maturity. He damned the comment, but refused to sensationalise the issue further.
The comment that was made wasn’t silly. It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate...— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods)May 22, 2013
I’m confident that there is real regret that the remark was made.— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) May 22, 2013
The Players ended nearly two weeks ago and it’s long past time to move on and talk about golf.— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) May 22, 2013
Woods knows he got to Sergio, and this incident will feed his belief he's right back where he was in his prime. He's getting under peoples' skin and prompting them to fall to pieces on the course and off it. He's done both to Garcia in a matter of days.
Garcia's reputation has hit an all-time low. Just when it seemed he was winning people over, El Nino has gone and done what we've seen him do so many times at the majors - lose his cool and throw his lead away.
As we saw during the celebratory 2012 Ryder Cup press conference, it's a mistake to give this man a stage. There's still too much of the little boy ruling his head and words are powerful things if you choose the wrong ones.
“Sometimes when we’re not on our game, we have a tendency to, I’m not going to say make wrong decisions, but we have a tendency to question everything in our lives that we are doing and sometimes we have to make changes.”
That was Graeme McDowell reacting to the news Rory McIlroy is leaving the management company they share, Horizon, to set up his own firm (report here). You don't have to read between the lines to see his point and a lot of people from the outside looking in will share it.
McIlroy has, by his very high standards, had an underwhelming start to 2013. He's been slow to adjust to the new clubs that came with his mega-money Nike deal and suffered a couple of notable embarrassments - the walk-off at the Honda Classic and his third-round 79 at the Masters.
Is it really just the clubs? Or is there something bigger at work here? Whatever the root of his mini-malaise, McIlroy has come to the conclusion that leaving Horizon and becoming the focus of a bespoke operation with his father Gerry on staff is the way forward.
Horizon will play nice publicly, but the Dublin-based firm must be raging behind closed doors. Having tempted McIlroy away from ISM and the man who launched his career, Chubby Chandler, they were by his side for rampant success last season.
Never look back. McIlroy and former manager Chubby Chandler
McIlroy won the European Tour's Race to Dubai, was the leading money earner on the US Tour and picked up a major at the US PGA Championship. Oh, and he was part of Europe's triumphant Ryder Cup team.
Off the course things have been going fairly nicely too, you'd think. McIlroy's Nike deal was announced in January this year and he's since inked lucrative partnership agreements with Bose and Omega. Global brand Rory is soaring. More cash is flowing in that McIlroy can possibly have time to spend.
When they pitch for future clients Horizon will have McIlroy as a case study in what they're capable of. So why wouldn't the 24-year-old stay put and reap more of the same? Are his needs really that different to those of McDowell, who's in the form of his life and appears about as contented as a man could be?
Perhaps McDowell's the issue - that McIlroy is in such demand these days he needs more attention than can be shared. Perhaps he also feels the kind of shelter he needs between himself and the world can only be provided by family and close friends. Conor Ridge's comments after McIlroy's walk off at the Honda may have pushed him in that direction.
We can only hope McIlroy's inspiration for the move comes from a well considered place and not - as McDowell seems to believe - just an urge to change something, anything, in the hope it gets him back winning golf tournaments again.
To be fair to McIlroy, things turned out pretty well the last time he changed management. But you can't help sense a little desperation is behind announcing a move like this at such a key point in the golfing calendar. It's the timing that makes you wonder if he's getting this one wrong.
We all saw it coming. Sergio Garcia's already long and winding script has witnessed some notable victories, but the boy who would be Seve's heir remains to most of us defined by his defeats. Another came on Sunday, as three balls in the water ended his Players challenge. Tiger Woods was only too happy to benefit.
It was Woods who beat the precocious 19-year-old Garcia to the US PGA Championship in 1999. Padraig Harrington has twice denied him a major - at the 2007 Open and 2008 US PGA. Sergio has beaten himself on the biggest stage more times than we can remember.
He's still just 33, but it already feels as though we've lived through a lifetime of frustration with our old friend Sergio. He's not the best at hiding it either.
Garcia has pouted, thrown tantrums and made his share of enemies along the way. "He’s not so much a bad guy as a total spoiled brat Alibi-Ike with a negative whiney attitude. Other than that, he’s okay by me," wrote Missy Rosenberg in a bitter takedown for the Washington Post this week.
Garcia went to ugly war with Tiger at the weekend. He accused the World No. 1 of distracting him by pulling a club during his backswing on Saturday and the bad feeling overflowed from there (more on that here). From the reaction of both players we can assume with absolute certainty they can't stand each other.
"It's not real surprising that he's complaining about something," said Woods after the third-round incident. Twenty-four hours later he celebrated beating the Spaniard to the trophy by saying it was nice to "play well when he really needed to" - a golfing gut punch if ever there was one.
Garcia doesn't do defeat quietly. After swinging at the world's best player he went down swinging into the water. Woods emerged looking like a 15th major was just around the corner; Garcia like a maiden major was as far away as ever.
At least that's what we're programmed to think. Clifton Brown, writing for PGATour.com, provides an alternative take. He believes Garcia's game is as good as it's ever been - that he can use what happened at Sawgrass as Adam Scott did his meltdown at the Open last year to inspire his Masters win.
Only time will tell, but based on what happened between Sergio and Tiger at The Players we can only hope the pair come together as many times as possible for the remainder of their careers. What we have here is truly the makings of a rivalry to enthral.
Woods was on the losing side at the 2006 Ryder Cup
Tiger and Phil are best friends who hunt and fish together compared to these two. Tiger and Rory, with their Nike love-in, are practically a married couple. Maybe the Woods rival we've looked so hard for all these years is a golfer whose trajectory has followed a very different course.
"He's not the nicest guy on tour," said Garcia of Woods in Florida. And you can almost imagine a hundred others nodding in agreement, but smiling politely as the great man walked past them a few minutes later.
Like him or loathe him, you can't help but admire Sergio's total honesty in everything he does. What you see is what you get - good and bad. To his Ryder Cup teammates he's a hero on the course and an entertainer off it. To many in the game he's a surly kid who never grew up and still doesn't know how to conduct himself.
Tiger's not perfect, of course. Stir the flawed and gifted pair together and what you have is a potential rivalry as compelling as golf has seen for a generation.
Imagine the intensity should Garcia and Woods be matched in a play-off at the US Open - one man looking to end his drought and prove he's not finished; the other to finally stake his claim and exorcise his demons just as Scott did at Augusta.
Based on the way these two men are playing it might happen. And if not at Merion then surely at a major between here at the next Ryder Cup. We really could be looking at the game's next big rivalry, 17 years after it first aired at the 1999 US PGA.
After all that's come before, what a story it would be for Sergio to win a first major at Tiger's expense.
Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement has dominated the sports news agenda this week. Fergie's champagne-soaked, 26-and-a-half year reign at Manchester United may never be matched and there's a strong argument he's the greatest coach, in any sport, ever.
Does golf have anybody to come even remotely close? Are there figures off the course who have provided even a fraction of Fergie's influence to the players out doing the business?
The simple answer is no. But if we're talking about figures whose leadership has resulted in prolific success, these men and women would be in the conversation. Here are some candidates as the Ferguson of golf.
Jack Nicklaus' coach was with him his entire career, helping him to 18 major victories and playing a huge role in the building of the Golden Bear legend.
"Jack Grout was smart," Nicklaus said in an interview with Golf.com last year. "He knew that he didn't know everything about golf, so he sent me to Byron Nelson and Claude Harmon and other guys."
Grout understood that Nicklaus needed more than he could teach him. His humble approach allowed Nicklaus to soak up the best ideas from the best places and become the well rounded player he did.
A familiar face to golf fans through his punditry work, Harmon is the man who coached Tiger Woods to eight major wins between 1993 to 2004 and has gone on to work with Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els, amongst many others.
Steinberg has been Tiger's agent since 1998. He might not have helped with his swing, but he's certainly helped bring in millions in endorsement deals and leveraged Tiger's brand with great success. He also helped with the fallout from those infamous "transgressions".
When Steinberg left IMG in 2011, Woods went with him. The two are very close friends and share a strong mutual trust.
"Staying with Mark Steinberg," tweeted Woods at the time. "Total confidence in him. Excited about the next stage in my professional life. Fond memories of Mark McCormack."
Chandler was a jobbing European Tour player when it dawned on him there was a service to be provided to his fellow professionals. He would go on to set up the ISM agency and launch the career of Rory McIlroy.
Among Chandler's current golf clients are Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel. His agency also represents stars in football, cricket and racing and Chandler is a man with sweeping influence.
McIlroy leaving ISM in 2011 to join his good friend Graeme McDowell at Horizon management was undoubtedly a blow, but Chandler's role in his development will not be forgotten.
1998 Solheim Cup captain Nilsson saw the talent in her fellow Swede Annika Sorenstam and would act as her swing coach and trusted advisor for much of her career.
Sorenstam's 10 major victories can all be attributed in part to the guidance and expertise of her good friend.
Ryder Cup captain is about as close as golf gets to the role of a football manager. Jacklin took it on four times for Europe and was only once defeated by the USA.
Two shots define Colin Montgomerie's anguished career at the majors. The first was the putt from Steve Elkington that won their play-off and the 1995 US PGA Championship; the second Monty's mis-hit approach to the last at the 2006 US Open which handed triumph to Geoff Ogilvy.
Two moments in time. Two "might-have-beens" that never were. To think where Monty would stand in our estimations had the first one missed and the second found the green.
Adding (at least) two majors to his Ryder Cup feats as a player and captain, eight European Tour order of merit titles and the 40 professional tournaments he conquered, we would likely be talking about Sir Colin Montgomerie. And nobody would be questioning his inclusion in golf's hall of fame - as Tony Jacklin and Raymond Floyd have.
I see their argument. After all, majors are golf's highest form and a truly gifted player who goes a long career without winning one has to be seen as being unfulfilled. Montgomerie should have won several. The fact he fell short dilutes his standing amongst the game's greats and leaves him short of where he should be.
If we're talking about the 20 greatest of all-time, Monty - for all his heroics at the Ryder Cup and all his supreme European Tour dominance - does not make the cut alongside players who have won three majors or more.
These fans might argue Monty has earned a place in golf history
But we're not talking about the 20 greatest. What we're talking about is a hall of fame that will also induct one-time major winner Freddie Couples this year. A hall of fame that sets out "to preserve and honour the history of the game of golf and the legacies of those who have made it great."
Sport evolves, and with it so must the measurement of what we consider greatness.
Like it or not, the stature of the Ryder Cup grows with every competition. By the time Monty's team triumphed in 2010 it already felt like the most vital event in golf. Tensions run high, crowds are louder than anywhere on planet golf and fans on either side care deeply what happens next.
Monty entered that arena eight times as a player and once as a captain. He stood up to expectancy and intensity and won every single time. So, when Jacklin says Monty "won't be remembered for the Ryder Cup when he's dead and buried," I say Jacklin better hope we don't remember that quote if he's still alive when it happens.
Yes, Monty fell short at the majors. But when golf says goodbye to Colin Montgomerie it will do so as a great competitor and captain in the biggest event in the sport. Ryder Cup golf might be a discipline different to the majors, but it's still a discipline to aspire to. You might even argue it's the game closest to that which regular golfers play at the weekends.
The Ryder Cup is the golf event of the people and Monty is Europe's greatest ruler. He might have been occasionally pompous and ill-tempered along the way, but his place in history will continue to grow as the event that defines him does.
If you're still not convinced, consider another candidate who didn't make the cut for the 2013 hall of fame. Do Mark O'Meara's two majors really make him a more deserving candidate than Monty?
Fifth major anyone?
This weekend brings The Players, and with it the self-serving PGA Tour line that we're watching what should be golf's fifth major. Some writers will indulge it; others will write the same objection piece they were asked to do last year.
My take is simple. Four majors is enough. Four majors is generous enough to offer hope to players, but not so generous as to suggest every jobbing Tour pro will get his shot at winning one. That's what the Tour is for.
Billy Horschel won his first PGA Tour event at the 61st attempt on Sunday, sinking a 26-footer at the last to claim the Zurich Classic and bank a little over $1.1 million in prize money. Now that's a relief we can all aspire to.
The victory propelled Horschel into the FedExCup top five and will impact his career in myriad ways moving forward. Like the five first-time winners before him this season on the PGA Tour, the American now has a name golf fans will recognise and tournament organisers will want in their field.
"This is something that I've wanted since I turned pro,'' said the emotional 26-year-old on Sunday. "I've always felt that I was good enough to win out here. I just felt I had to check every box."
Elation meets validation. It must be a wonderful feeling, but what if victory doesn't come easily for a Tour player - be it over a season or an entire career? What if the stars don't align and it just doesn't happen?
These five players demonstrate that coming first, while delivering obvious financial and psychological benefits, certainly doesn't make or break a golfer's ability to earn a fabulous living. When it comes to professional golf, coming first is not the only option.
Jeff Overton's Ryder Cup celebrations have yet to be seen on the PGA Tour
Baird has banked $12.6 million on the PGA Tour since 1997, but despite achieving 30 top-10 finishes and coming second five times has still to win a tournament in his 362 appearances.
In 2001, CNN billed the American as "golf's richest runner-up".
Englishman Davis has played in 261 PGA Tour events without a win. That run could have ended at the 2010 Heritage, but Davis' honorable decision to call a two-shot penalty on himself handed a play-off win to Jim Furyk.
Consolation for Davis can be found in the $10.9 million in prize money he's picked up along the way
Oliver Wilson was the Englishman who came from nowhere to take a place on Europe's 2008 Ryder Cup team. His world ranking has since plummeted to 548th, but the 32-year-old should still be fairly comfortable on his European Tour earnings of €5,816,564 - achieved without a victory on the circuit in 222 starts.
Furyk has won a lot of tournaments, but his 2012 season on the PGA Tour was a perfect example of why winning isn't everything in professional golf. He took home $3.6 million from 24 tournaments, finishing inside the top 25 at over half of them, but not recording a single victory.
Jeff Overton is a name most golf fans are familiar with, but like Wilson his fame is owed to a Ryder Cup appearance. In 2010 he became the first American to play in the competition without having recorded a PGA Tour victory. Despite a passionate personal performance he couldn't stop Europe coming out on top at Celtic Manor.
Three years on and he's still without that elusive Tour win. He's played 201 tournaments and finished runner-up four times. You won't feel that sorry for him when you learn he's taken home $10.5 million along the way.
G-Mac. Just saying it makes you feel as if you've shared a pint of the blank stuff with the man. Most of us don't know Graeme McDowell from Adam (Scott), but there's a wonderful accessibility to him that makes it feasible to our imaginations we've high-fived during a Ryder Cup foursomes match.
Part of that is owed to Twitter. McDowell's following is getting up towards 500k now and, like his good friend Rory McIlroy (1.6 million and counting), his globe-trotting golfing adventures make for endearing entertainment.
The rest of our affection we've picked up from watching his interviews and admiring his general demeanour. Take away his golf swing and G-Mac could be any of us. He's not a prodigy like Tiger or Rory, or a lighthouse for attention like Rickie Fowler or Ian Poulter, or an eccentric like Bubba.
He's just your regulation brilliant golfer, living the life and staying humble.
What a life it is. McDowell has been living in Florida for eight years now and in 2012 built a luxury new house in Lake Nona with views over the water. This year he opened his own bar called Nona Blue, which he describes as a "modern tavern".
His love life is ticking over nicely, too. McDowell, as you would in his position, proposed to fiancee Kristin Snape on the helipad of an exclusive hotel in Dubai in November. Snape caddied for him at the Masters par-three event and the pair will marry at the end of the year.
G-Mac poses with the 2010 US Open trophy he won at Pebble Beach
How did he meet her? G-Mac hired her design company to work on his swanky new pad of course.
With all that going on it would be hard to feel sorry for McDowell if he was enduring a miserable year of missed cuts and missed putts. As it turns out, his golf game is as good as it has ever been and at 33 he looks a strong bet to add to the major he won at the 2010 US Open.
McDowell's weekend win at the RBC Heritage in South Carolina had been three years coming, but it's been coming. The Irishman already had four top-10s on the PGA Tour this season, with two of them at WGC events against stellar fields. His missed cut at the Masters may prove a momentary blip in a season that holds huge promise.
McDowell's numbers back up that claim. He's in the top 10 for driving accuracy, strokes gained in putting and scoring average on the PGA Tour this season. Notably, he's also first for scrambling - which demonstrates how well his short game is working to correct the occasional missed target.
He's ready for anything and feels at his best when he's challenged. At Hilton Head the wind picked up on a difficult course and G-Mac was in his element. "I needed the course to play tough today, and I got that," he said on Sunday.
McDowell's conquering of the conditions prompted USA Today to wonder whether he should now be consider a favourite for the US Open. Putting on an exam is the modus operandi of the USGA and G-Mac's accuracy from the tee will be strongly in his favour at Merion Golf Club.
Of all the majors, the US Open appears to suit his game best. McDowell was tied for second behind Webb Simpson at the Olympic Club in 2012 and appears to relish the challenge laid down. Take into account his form and he has to be considered among the two or three most likely to win this year.
It's easy being G-Mac. Especially when the golf is devilishly difficult.
Depending on which way you look at it, Adam Scott's Masters win was either the best or worst thing that could have happened for the rule-makers considering a ban on anchored strokes for the 2016 season.
In one sense it validated the position of the R&A and USGA. Scott's broom-handled putter didn't deliver perfect results, but it played a defining role in earning the green jacket - not least with clutch putts at 18 and the second play-off hole. Having switched to an anchored stroke in 2011, Scott is now a major winner.
As the Australian would himself admit, anchored putting has undoubtedly helped him finally deliver on his potential. Scott is an answer to those who claim there is no proof using belly or broom-handled putters can provide a benefit.
That said, the R&A and USGA would probably rather a hugely popular figure hadn't won the Masters using one in the week before they were set to announce their decision. The PGA Tour and PGA of America are on Scott's side of the debate and we could be in for a very complicated negotiation.
We await the decision eagerly, but in the meantime let's take a look at how big outcomes would have been affected had anchored strokes been banned from the outset.
Might Tiger have 16 majors if not for anchored putters?
2011 US PGA Championship
REVISED WINNER: JASON DUFNER
Keegan Bradley claimed a maiden major at Atlanta Athletic Club in Georgia. The man he beat in the play-off was fellow American Jason Dufner, who blew his lead in regulation and suffered crushing disappointment. Without Bradley leaning on his belly putter, Dufner might have triumphed and, who knows, perhaps added another major since.
2012 US OPEN
REVISED WINNER: GRAEME MCDOWELL
Webb Simpson was the second major winner to use a belly putter. Without it, we might well have seen G-Mac make it three straight Irish winners at the US Open. He finished a shot back alongside Michael Thompson and you'd have backed him to win the play-off.
2012 OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP
REVISED WINNER: TIGER WOODS
Now this is where it gets really interesting. With Ernie Els winning from Adam Scott, and both using anchored putting strokes, we look at the tie for third between Tiger Woods and Brandt Snedeker. Snedeker's final-round showing at Augusta suggests Tiger's nerve would hold, bringing him major number 15.
REVISED WINNER: TIGER WOODS
The obvious argument here is for Angel Cabrera, who took Scott to a play-off, but when you consider our revised history has Tiger winning the 2012 Open there's a case for him entering this one with far greater confidence.
The weight would have been off. Tiger would have avoided some of his mistakes and putted like the Tiger of old. You might go so far to say he would have romped it.
Sunday at Augusta never fails us. With galleries hoarse around those 18 famous holes and history looming large, the final round of the Masters is nostalgia in the making. The past is everywhere; everlasting glory for one brave golfer is there for the taking.
Many have glimpsed the green jacket, but most have painfully - sometimes agonisingly - watched it slip away. Augusta National, as the scene of 77 major championships, has inflicted perhaps more career-defining scars than any golf course on earth.
Adam Scott could have been its latest victim, but the 32-year-old stood up to the threat of haunting disaster with a steely resolve and a serene inner calm on Sunday. "I found my way today," Scott said after out-duelling Angel Cabrera at the second play-off hole to win.
Augusta's power to hurt is also power to heal. The memory of Scott's spectacular Open Championship collapse at Royal Lytham last year will no longer define him. His achievement as the first Australian to win the Masters and a long-awaited major now cast last July as the prequel to something truly special.
Scott has felt the agony. The ecstasy will have him thinking it was all worthwhile.
The difference between Lytham and Augusta was Scott's mental execution. Each shot was taken in isolation and each hole played as if it were the only thing that mattered. While others fell prey to the spectre of maybe, Scott's eyes stayed firmly on the flag ahead and his brain on the business of getting up and down. His swing did the rest.
Scott dons the famous green jacket
He thought he'd won it 18. And when Cabrera summoned a majestic approach to force a play-off you wondered if Scott's game was already played. You wondered if the get-it-done Argentine was about to break Australian hearts and leave Scott nursing a might hangover of hurt.
Two putts at the 10th would decide it. Cabrera's came within an inch of dropping; Scott's fell like the weight of expectancy that has followed his career from the outset. The man who would be Tiger's rival had finally delivered on his hype and done it with the bravery of a true champion.
After six runners-up finishes and Greg Norman-inflicted sporting torture, Australia finally has its long-awaited Masters champion. And with the knowledge he now has to get it done, Scott may just be getting started.
Same old Tiger
There was a familiar feel about Tiger Woods' final round at Augusta. Gone was the retro Tiger we've seen sinking putts for fun and winning tournaments and in his place the red-shirted act of desperation who just can't quite get it done on Sunday at the Masters.
As the missed chances continue to add up you begin to sense that Tiger's only way back to winning a major is the route Rory McIlroy has taken twice - blitz the field out of sight and bring it home from way out in front.
It has already been noted, of course, that Scott's victory means four of the last six majors have been won with belly putters. With the R&A still debating whether to introduce a rule banning "anchoring", we can expect the issue to be a hot topic in the coming days.
I'm against belly putters, but I don't question the legitimacy of Scott's victory. Just as Tiger accepted the ruling on his drop, Scott is playing to the rules as they stand right now.
The Tiger Woods story has yet another compelling chapter. Woods took an illegal drop during the second round at the Masters and has been dealt a two-shot penalty. As a result, he will tee off on moving day five shots off the lead - instead of three.
Had Woods been disqualified and not benefitted from a new rule that gives leniency to violations that come to light after the fact, we would have been handed one of the most shocking stories in Augusta history, perhaps the most shocking of them all.
As it stands, Woods has lost two shots we all know he can make up. You could also argue his continued rehabilitation from golf's premier villain has been handed a boost, in the sense that Tiger will now be seen by some as a victim. Were he to come from here and win, those sympathising with his plight would read it as redemption upon redemption.
Whatever happens, this moment will stay with Tiger forever
The opposite take is that Tiger should have withdrawn whatever the ruling and is letting his desire to win stand in the way of golf's moral code. Sir Nick Faldo and David Duval are both in that camp, but while I can see their point I stand firmly with those who believe Tiger's prerogative here is simply to adhere to the decision handed down.
It's not Tiger's place to overrule the officials, who have clearly thought long and hard about a ruling which will be poured over for years. If Tiger puts on the green jacket, it will be poured over for decades. If he wins and goes on to break Jack's record, it will be poured over for centuries.
But it's not Tiger's problem. Tiger's only responsibility is to respect the decision and go about his business.
Relevant or not, I fully believe he was oblivious to his crime at the 15th. Had he known what he was doing was wrong, he would not have incriminated himself so blatantly after his round.
Yes, he gained an advantage, because he wanted to give himself an extra two yards to get his distance right with the wedge. But he will pay for that and more with two shots that may very well cost him the tournament. Nobody can argue Tiger would have paid a bigger penalty had he dropped the ball in the right spot.
The Masters committee have made their call. It's a huge one and many will accuse them of pandering to TV ratings by keeping Tiger in the tournament. I don't subscribe to that conspiracy and neither would Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old sensation who could easily have been knocked out of the tournament by a time violation ruling on Friday.
Everybody is looking for the big story. The big story is that Tiger has lost two shots and will now have to do something remarkable to win. Time to move on and get watching some golf.