By Ken Reed

Once again, we witnessed a tense, dramatic Sunday at the Masters. What a great shootout over the last couple holes and sudden death. Adam Scott has to be one of the classiest athletes in all of sport. And Angel Cabrera was a gracious runner-up.

As Scott was celebrating his last putt, I couldn’t help but flashback to last year’s British Open and reflect on how classy Scott was in handling his collapse over the final four holes, and how genuinely gracious he was afterwards while interacting with the winner, Ernie Els, and the media.

Scott’s story is such a heartwarming contrast to the sad spectacle that is Tiger Woods. Considering the two cases, Woods and Scott, it made me think of one of my favorite quotes from John Wooden (a legendary coach and man): “Sport doesn’t build character, it reveals it.” The character of Tiger Woods and Adam Scott has been revealed in recent years, on and off the course, and, of course, during the last few days at Augusta.

Woods took an illegal drop during Saturday’s round and ended up signing an incorrect scorecard, traditionally an offense resulting in disqualification from the tournament. Due to a relatively new loophole in golf’s rules, Tiger avoided being disqualified. Instead, he was given a two-stroke penalty at the discretion of the Masters rules committee (I’m sure it had nothing to do with television ratings or sponsor dollars …).

Legally, Woods was within his rights to continue in the tournament. However, golf is by tradition a game of honor in which players call penalties on themselves, to protect the field and the integrity of the game.

In his post-round interview, Woods admitted breaking the rule, if unknowingly (ignorance of a rule isn’t an allowable defense). Tiger, who recently approved a Nike ad that claimed, “Winning takes care of anything,” had a choice: he could continue playing in the tournament, or take the ethical path, the path of sportsmanship, and disqualify himself. Disqualifying himself would have raised his status in the golfing and sporting worlds more than winning a 15th major tournament. It also would’ve done a ton of good for the game of golf.

Saturday was about Woods, his dilemma, and his choice.

Sunday was about amazing golf and outstanding character.

It doesn’t always happen in sports — or life — but Sunday the good guy won.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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