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Eger: Not Likely To Pick Up The Phone Again

In case you were still unclear on the completely harmless effort by David Eger to save Tiger from a 2013 Masters DQ for signing an incorrect card and the questionable response to Eger's call from Masters championship chair Fred Ridley in responding to assistance from an outside agency of Eger's stature, check out this Golf Central interview with Eger.

It won't be up long, but the key quotes are:

"I wouldn't have called if I wasn't 100 percent certain."

"First time I've ever called."

"With the outcome, I probably wouldn't call again."

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Reader Comments (32)

It is a reflection on the human condition that people choose to ignore expert advice from someone who they know, knows for certain. Easy when it's all kept secret but very unwise when it is likely to be in the public domain. As my grandmother said "What you see wrong in others put right in yourself."
Perhaps Mr Eger should take over the Masters Rules job next year?
I suspect the Tour and Majors will stop taking phone calls in the near future...
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJS
My question always is who the hell has the direct line to these officials? So you call the main number at the clubhouse and some operator answers, does she really know where to transfer the call to? Eger, I can see him having someone's cell but the whole thing is confusing. Why not just use Freddie Couples logic and not pick up the phone in case someone is on the other end?
05.3.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
I will add this point one more time. There is not a single other sport out there where a fan can call in and change/affect the ruling on the field. It is farcical and ludicrous that this game allows this to occur.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPete the Luddite
There is also not a single other sport (at least I can't think of one) that REQUIRES the players to police themselves. A golf rules official does not "officiate" the way they do in other sports. Ultimately, the player is responsible to make sure they are acting within the rules. Could you imagine TW "working" the officials to gain a favorable ruling, much like Tom Brady or LeBron James do in their respective sports? As long as the rules remain in their current form, phone call rulings will not only be routine but NECESSARY to protect the field.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterShadygolf
Question - you finish your round and sign your scorecard. Later in the bar, your buddy says he saw something on the TV that showed your ball moved on 15 and you failed to move it back (unintentional, of course). No phone call was made. What do you do?
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterShadygolf
Ol harv, Pete; as the stories over the last few days have shown, it wasn't just 'some fan' who called in to the clubhouse....
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
Pete the Luddite,

Golf is unlike any other sports. Not saying your point is valid or not, just saying one should not compare golf, which is a game of skill literally played over miles of land compared to courts and fields that are uniform in their playing grounds and action is constant. Other sports see players pitted against each other, usually in direct, and often punishing, contact. Penalties in other sports can go either way, and working the officials is very much a part of the will to win. I played basketball, and wouldn't worry one bit if I got away with a foul, knowing that I was hacked earlier and the game and didn't get the call. Holding could probably be called on just about every play in football.

Again, not saying that golf should allow callers, but that decision should not be made in comparison to other sports. There is only one concern on this topic and that is: the good of the game. Let the debate hinge on that notion.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRM
When a player registers at an event, in his packet is a host of phone numbers, transportation, tournament director, and Rules Officials to name a few. Potentially there are 156 players each week that have the number to call in.

Come Saturday morning there's Tiger, video showing him dropping 5 feet behind is first divot. That's not splitting hairs, that's a full make over. It's having your eyebrows plucked. It's having highlights put in. It's having hair "extensions" added for comfort and relief. Then Tiger gets to watch his post round interview where he modestly boasts about his hair extensions. When did it ever occur to Tiger Saturday morning that he took an illegal drop, played from a wrong place, signed an incorrect score card, and never once heard from a rules official until Saturday morning. To completely understand this story Tiger never accepted responsibility for rule 6-1 6-6d. In my opinion he accepted a trip card from Fred Ridley, who was busy trying to ignore David Egars help in trying to keep Tiger from a DQ. If Ridley knew if Egars call in before Tiger reached the scoring area then Ridley is guilty of waiving Rule 33-1. Splitting hairs....ouch.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSean Murphy
Press Agent,

You are correct, it wasn't just some fan. It was the former Senior Director of Rules and Competition at the USGA and former Director of Tournament Administration at the TOUR. If a man with that background feels compelled to call, it makes Ridley's decision to not even ask Tiger about it very strange. Not to be a conspiracy theorist but Eger's reference to the "higher-ups" struck me as odd. Is there a rift between he and the USGA (and/or Ridley). How does Eger not have Mark Russell's number? They overlapped on TOUR.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCRS
Imagine if these get out of jail cards for very high profile players leads to a change in culture in golf where cheating and bargaining become more accepted.

Imagine if it becomes normal to assume that a good percentage of score returned are incorrect but that the violations were not witnessed. That is the end tournament golf, especially medal play. People who do not understand this simply do not understand competitive tournament golf.

Anything, and I mean anything, that reduces the stigma of making an intentional mistake OR and unintentional mistake is a massive threat to the future of the game at the competitive level.

This was the most important issue for Fred Ridley to contemplate when considering the use of a waiver under 33-7. If he did not thoroughly contemplate this, that THIS would be an even bigger error that the bungling that he claims to have commited.
Callers into a golf tournament are basically snitches. So what?

Snitches are the ones that brought Lance Armstrong to justice.

How do you apologists feel about giving Lance Armstrong back his seven Tour de France victories?
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDick Pound
EGER: "With the outcome, I probably wouldn't call again."
ANGC: "Mission Accomplished!"
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe O
Tiger this, Tiger that. Cheating in anything too often seems to come down to a focus on the perpetrator and on the impact on the perpetrator.

The Committee failed to protect THE FIELD. David Eger, if you're reading this I hope you keep calling.

@Pete the L: in last night's Rangers hockey game in Washington, DC, the action was stopped for five minutes, right in the heart of the 3rd period, when the referees called something called a "situation room" -- in Toronto. I guess the analogous question is, what happens if the refs don't bother calling "upstairs"?
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark B
Golf has been valuable to me in life, and i keep playing it, precisely because it is NOT like other sports.

when golf becomes like basketball, or god forbid cycling the game LOSES something, it doesnt gain.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered Commentersmails
How did the committee fail to protect the Field? TW received the penalty that he would have received had Ridley and the Committee spoken to him prior to signing his scorecard. DQ for signing an incorrect scorecard is one if the dumbest penalties in golf. Assess the penalty and move on unless it can be demonstrated that the player intentionally cheated. Any talk that what ANGC did somehow opens the door for a proliferation of cheating and signing incorrect scorecards without consequence is ludicrous.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterScott
I grow weary of those burning incense at the altar of "The Game" and how golf is so unlike any other sport known to mankind and likely all of the universe. It's a game, I find it rather silly to read those who drone on an on about the sanctity and purity of it all. This is not a religion. It's a person hitting a ball with a stick toward a hole, following a governing set of rules to do so. That's it. Nothing more. (See? You made me swing to the opposite end of the spectrum to make a point. I hate that... :) )

I'll answer the simple question posed above by Shadygolf. If I played the round according to the rules, AND I didn't notice this possible penalty, AND my playing partners didn't see anything untoward, AND the judge following our group didn't see anything...then it's in the books. No foul occurred. At what point do you want to call it a day? There are time limits on protests in all kinds of sports (wrestling, yachting, volleyball to name a few, from my personal experiences).

You want instant replay? Fine, let's have that discussion. BUT, that is a completely separate discussion than allowing call-in's. Using televised coverage for allowing call-in's puts an unfair bias on players for several obvious reasons: more famous and higher ranking golfers get more airtime, time of round played (was it during tv time), number of holes for which tv cameras are available, etc.

Mark B- your analogy, respectfully, is not an apples to apples situation. NHL has instant replay, and their oversight goes to a central team, as I understand it. Again, if you want instant replay in golf, bring it on. First, though, you have to tell me how to implement the system fairly and equally for all, so that those who get more tv time aren't unfairly weighted in reviews compared to lesser viewed golfers.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPete the Luddite
@Scott and @Pete t L:

Good comments. I agree signing an incorrect scorecard is a dumb rule and apparently so do the authorities, as they have built in to the post-round process something like a kajillion quality checks to ensure that doesn't happen.

But I don't see the issue as signing an incorrect scorecard. To me, I apply that to cases of failing at math. Suppose for a minute there is no "Committee:" Tiger signs his card and then he makes his comments in that postround interview. It is brought to his attention he dropped illegally. Now what? He has purposely made an illegal drop and signed his card. The Committee it seems to me saved him from himself.

My larger point about the scorecard triple-checks and Committee reviews: the game of flog -- ie the men's tour, as opposed to the golf you and I play -- already has structures and mechanisms in place that take as much of the burden as possible off the competitor to know the rules, to call penalties on himself, and to turn in a correct score. There's already a partial abdication (if that's possible) of the flogger's responsibility to sell-police his play.

Part of me wonders how much of Tiger's action is the result of an attitude along the lines of, "Someone will catch (read: help) me if necessary. If they don't it must be okay."

One more point: I think one sad consequence of all this is "The Committee" in future tournaments will put in place even MORE checks to "help" floggers. And the floggers themselves may be less sure of themselves on the course and start calling over rules officials even more. It sounds painful for all parties involved.

Now, would it be better if committees' responsibilities and rules officials' availability to players were curtailed, so that players REALLY took 100 percent responsibility for their play under the rules? I honestly don't know but given the trend is clearly in the direction of MORE babysitting / handholding / triple-checking, I guess the powers that be have concluded the trend is the right one.

So: expect the real impact of this imbroglio to be less responsibility placed on floggers for their scores, and more responsibility on "The Committee" to ensure rules adherence. I'm not saying the rulebook gets rewritten, it's more a subtle attitude / cultural type of change.

Just my two cents. I see both your points and am sympathetic. If this whole issue was black and white we probably wouldn't still be chewing on it!
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark B
First, Tiger didn't cheat when he made the bad drop. He violated a rule off golf that establishes a penalty for the violation. Should a tour pro know the rule, sure. Should a tour caddy knoe the rule, sure. Should the on-air commentators know the rule, sure. But sometimes even the best violate one of the rules.

By signing and turning in a scorecard that was incorrect, Tiger should have been disqualified. However, in this case, and if that's to be true, then the "Committee" should never get involved with a player's card until after it is signed and turned-in. If it is only the player's responsibilty then leave it so. The "committee" can step-in after to disqualify the errant player.

If, however, the "committee" is to be allowed to question a player and become involved with the correct score before a player signs the card, then if the "committee" reviews a situation and makes no intrusion there should be no penalty - much less disqualification. If the "committee" makes an error, then its an error past.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHBL
Shadygolf...if you're Blayne Barber you do nothing and go on and complete the tournament.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
It's popular (esp with the ESPN/GITH crowd) to make fun of golf rules. But what percentage of avid players, not to mention casual golf fans, have ever read - and thought about or studied - the rules and the decisions? Admittedly, that takes a lot of effort. It's easier just to castigate the elitist white guys and their stupid rules than to invest a few weekends learning them, right? And while virtually none of us has read the NBA rule book, there really aren't that many of them and besides, guys in stripes are charged with their interpretation and enforcement. Similarly, with the NFL, we intuitively understand when most infractions occur, but even if we don't, penalties and instant replay reviews of calls are made per curiam. I'll bet few can explain the tuck rule and its vagaries. But if you want clarification or background, I assume you'd refer to NFL Officials Manual - if only you could easily obtain a copy. Even if you could, I'd venture to say there one might encounter there some impenetrable or opaque passages.

For those that actually take the time, the ROG aren't really THAT hard to understand and follow. And, by gum, you might find they are actually the byproduct of a lot of reflection and experience. It's hard to develop a set of rules for a self-policing game, but the governing bodies have done a pretty good job. BTW, I think the rules are far from perfect. I disagree with the stroke n' distance penalty for OB shots, e.g. But I understand why the rule is written the way it is and, when I'm keeping score, I abide by it. Frankly, part of the allure of golf for me is the the application of the rules. I find the informed give and take on this particular issue fascinating, like any controversial issue or court decision.

If you don't want to invest the time to learn and play by the rules, that's perfectly cool by me. Just don't post a score. If there's a group that wants to start fresh and go all XFL, that's cool too. I'd probably watch, but it's not my kind of golf.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGinGHIN
The R&A are working with the USGA on simplification of ROG. I sent some suggestions a few day's back here's one:
Rule 28 Ball Unplayable.
A ball can be unplayable for many reasons, it is logical that the same rule applies whenever it is unplayable. A ball is unplayable when it disappears into bushes or long grass or over white, red or yellow stakes, or is in a tree root, or up a tree and identifiable, or not, or up a tree in a hazard. Currently several rules cover these 8 situations- not at all simple.

If golf was invented today there would be one rule for all these situations.
Rule 28 is that Rule. Rules 26 and 27 can then be substantially reduced. Playing a provisional ball become redundant, saving time. Stroke and distance would still be an option but very, very rarely used.
Comments welcome.
Parts (b) and (c) of Rule 28 use the location of the ball as the reference point for relief. Parts (b) and (c) of Rule 26-1 use the spot where the ball last crossed the margin of the (lateral) water hazard as the reference point.

How do you propose simplifying those? Would the ball's location be used as the reference point in both cases -- that would afford little relief (under the two club-length option in part (c)) for many of the balls in a large lateral water hazard such as the one on the left side of the 18th hole at Pebble Beach.

Or, would Rule 28 somehow use a similar 'margin of the unplayable area'?
05.4.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
Carl-I was about to ask a similar question.Where would the reference point be for a lost ball?Is the provisional ball such a bad thing?In a situation where 28b and 28c still wouldnt get you out of trouble 'walking back to the tee' is going to waste a lot of time.I really applaud Colin for his efforts and I'm delighted the powers that be are looking to simplify but most of the things I come up with create as many problems as they solve.
05.4.2013 | Unregistered Commenterchico
Chico, IMO confusion over how to apply Rules 26-1 and 28 are not the fault of the way those rules are written.
05.4.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
05.4.2013 | Unregistered Commenterchico
Chico, Carl said: " Rule 28- somehow use a similar 'margin of the unplayable area'? "
Yes. If a ball now disappears into a hazard over a hill there's some guesswork involved. Ideally courses would have permanent (red) flat markers, at say, 10 or 20 metre centres, level with the ground, so they could be mowed over. The markers would be placed along any areas where balls might be lost- long grass, trees, water hazards, 2 metres from the course perimeter fence, etc. The markers would be located far enough from water or trees etc, that a player would get a half decent place to place the ball (Remember Chico, Rule 20 Dropping, I want to change that one too!)
Modify the Rule 28 so that the ball shall be placed where it crossed the 'margin of the unplayable area' not 2 club lengths away. So no marking the point where it crossed the margin and marking the two club lengths and dropping it (and it rolls too far, so do it again, and it rolls too far again, and the ref points at the spot where it landed like it's a poisonous snake- so place it- Halleluya). Identify where it crossed the margin (ideally the row of red markers) and place it there. Simple and intuitive - that's what it's all about.
If the ball is playable in the "unplayable area" the player can choose to play it, free of charge, just like now in a water hazard. Otherwise- add a penalty shot, place it, hit it, move on.
White markers would be needed for internal out of bounds with the rule that the ball must be placed at the margin.
Please criticize this idea .
I hope someone at the R&A or USGA read this as I kept my submission short and did not mention the markers, which are optional but once again make it easy and speed things up. The markers sound like a hassle to install but it's a "once only" task. And if the ball is on a marker just tell your fellow competitors and place it at the nearest point of relief not closer to the hole. Simple and intuitive.
so Colin -devils advocate again.You play at my club Blairgowrie where nearly every hole is tree-lined both sides.You whack it into the trees and then place your ball in the semi rough- the point where it entered the unplayable area-no doubt chose a good lie and add one and play from there.That would be a massive advantage for the higher handicappers and penalise the straight drivers.I see plenty of opposition to that.
05.4.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChico
Chico, if the R&A/USGA are wise they would test the idea in one country or region for a year to see what effect it did have on handicaps and ask the subject golfers' opinions after the trial. There are often unintended consequences of a change.
I play on Tuesday mornings with a 24 handicapper (very quick and good conversation) with the biggest consistent slice off the tee I have ever seen (in 50 years of golf). Our 2 courses (KGS Sarawak) have mature trees and water hazards. He probably hits the left side trees, where he aims, one in four holes and the right side trees much less frequently. He might lose one ball a round in trees. (He loses 2 or 3 in water hazards.) So the new rule would save him about a shot a round and he becomes a 23. In my opinion handicaps are, although a precise number for competition purposes, in reality a range. I always now describe myself as 14,15,16 having been down to 7,8,9 twenty years ago!
The interesting aspect of the Rules is how little they are actually invoked in a normal round assuming the basics are known. I used to play a lot with properous doctors, lawyers, accountants etc, mostly ignorant of the rules, and they knew I knew the RoG. There would be a query less than once a round, I guess. You're right that high handicappers would be affected more. My Tuesday partner would go out a shot because we already use my rules! Under the USGA Handicap system we are under here, all cards are supposed to be submitted for handicap, as you know.
Chico, I play with a 24 handicapper on Tuesdays, he has a huge slicing tee shot. I reckon he would lose a ball per round in the trees, on the left, where his shots start off. So perhaps he would save a shot a round. He also loses one or two balls in our numerous water hazards usually on the right, where he plays the existing rule.
Not sure that the straight hitters you describe are too badly off playing their 2nd shot from the middle of the fairway where the 24 handicapper is still on the fairway playing his 3rd
The R&A/USGA should trial any changes of the rules for a year in a single region or country to see the effects and get feedback from players. There are often unintended consequences from changes.
@Colin, perhaps you should arrange such a test at your club.
05.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
Any Rule changes obviously have to come from the R&A/USGA and they say they are looking into it. As a white guy in a developing nation I don't make too many suggestions. When I suggested "winter rules" during our wet season (we don't do winter) the response was that each group of players can decide for themselves! I left it at that.
The game here is played by groups rather than fields organised by the club. We don't even have a monthly medal. Not that I would play- it's carts only and slow.

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