That's Jack Nicklaus speaking to Steve Elling, not long after the USGA and R&A handed down their modification to the Decisions on the morning of 2011's first major and after years of bickering, opening up the possibility that there will be fewer scorecard DQ's after phoned-in violations are discovered.
"I think it's absurd," he said of the old disqualification penalty. "I have probably had 10 or 20 balls move in my entire career when I didn't now it. I think rules should be about intent. If a fellow wants to cheat, he'll cheat. What advantae did he [Harrington] gain?"
"It makes the rule what it should have been," Nicklaus continued. "We've always been our own referee, and our own custodians of the rules. To have a TV camera ... a ball that moves in te wind, or settles on the grass, that has zero effect on what really happens, but if you don't detect it [you get penalized]?
"I think this puts the integrity of the player back into the game."
From Doug Ferguson's short AP story on the oddly timed announcement.
Even with the new interpretation, it makes clear that knowing the rules is up to the player.
“For some time, we have been concerned that, in certain limited circumstances, disproportionate disqualification penalties have been required by the rules,” R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said. “This carefully considered decision reflects our desire to ensure that the Rules of Golf remain fair and relevant in the changing environment in which the game is played today.”
Davis said the Masters provided the USGA and R&A the chance to meet and finalize the rule change.
“After we had spent countless hours over the last few months working through these things, we finally came to resolution,” Davis said. “We felt that once we did that, whether it was this week or another week, it needed to happen immediately. Because this was really a problem that we didn't want to wait until the next rules cycle to change.”