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Faldo calls for Woods to 'man up' and withdraw

ESPN staff
April 13, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Sir Nick Faldo believes Tiger Woods should withdraw © Getty Images
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Six-time major champion Sir Nick Faldo has called on Tiger Woods to withdraw from the Masters for the good of his legacy, after a rules controversy on Saturday morning.

Woods, in contention heading into the weekend, was penalised two shots by Augusta National officials after taking an illegal drop during his second round - an infringement that was only realised after the American appeared to mention it in his post-round interview.

Prior to a rules change in 2012, such errors would usually result in disqualification - but Woods avoided that eventually under a new provision in USGA rule 33.

However, with uncertainty remaining about how aware Woods was of the infringement he was committing, Faldo believes the 14-time major champion should do "the manly thing" and withdraw from the tournament for the good of his career.

"He should really sit down and think about this and the mark this will leave on his career, his legacy, everything," Faldo said, speaking on the Golf Channel. "He should really sit quietly with whoever he trusts, [long-time agent] Mark Steinberg, a few others, maybe Lindsey [Vonn, his girlfriend] as well, and sit and just go, wow, I would be doing the manly thing to go, I have broken the rules of golf."

Golf holds its etiquette in high regard and has a long history of self-policing, with players expected to act honorably and call penalties on themselves when required - even if they were not observed by anyone else.

Bobby Jones Jr, one of the greats of the game, famously noted "You might as well thank me for not robbing a bank" after being lauded for calling a one-shot penalty on himself in an incident no other player saw.

However, only Woods himself can truly know whether his actions while dropping the ball were a deliberate, knowing attempt to bend the rules - or simply a mistake made in unusual circumstances.

Faldo added: "Look at the players that we've had on tour recently. Brian Davis the most recent one. He's in the hazard, he takes his back swick, he touches a dead reed, the thickness of a straw. It brushes it. He calls the ruling on himself.

"And that's one of the rules, when every player knows that did not change the lie of the golf ball and did not change the stroke at all. Right? This one has clearly changed the lie of the golf ball, absolutely clearly. and many of us or our careers have called out playing partners ... and said, 'Oh, one shot.' And get on with it.

"We've done this for years, all of us. We've all policed ourselves. That's the most wonderful thing about this game of golf. By the black and white of these rules. It's been around since 1911, USGA, and, you know, sometimes the black and white is harsh.

"But I think Tiger would gain massive brownie points if he stood up and said, 'You know, you're right, guys, I clearly have broken the rules. And I'll walk, I'll see you next week.'"

However, the ruling - and, by implication, Woods' continued participation in the event - has received the backing of others within the sport.

"Take the fact that it was Tiger out of the equation and it is a fair ruling," Graeme McDowell said on Twitter. "Since it is him the debate begins about TV ratings etc."

"Two shot penalty official," Hunter Mahan added. "I like this ruling because he took an illegal drop but no official brought it to his attention."

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