Nick Faldo Completely Flip-Flops His Stance On Tiger’s Penalty #DropGate

I’ve definitely become a big Nick Faldo fan over the years.  Off to what I felt was a slow start in his career as a golf commentator in being a little overly bland and blah his first couple years in the booth, Faldo has really stepped up his game as being more open, honest and critical throughout each telecast.  His tempered, yet delightful and charming British wits make him a true pleasure to listen to on air.

Today’s pre-round coverage on Live From the Masters on Golf Channel was, to no one’s surprise, completely dominated by Tiger’s drop-gate.  After hours of review, analysis and discussion, the green jackets assessed Tiger a two stroke penalty for his illegal drop under new rule 33-7, instead of a disqualification, which came highly to the dismay of some individuals.  One of those people was Brandel Chamblee, who called for Tiger to DQ himself and pull himself out of the tournament all together for taking an illegal drop and subsequently signing an incorrect scorecard.  Another, was Nick Faldo.  Sir Nick followed suit on Brandel’s comments criticizing Tiger and grew more and more highly critical of Tiger as time passed.

Nick’s main point was how Tiger’s legacy would become tainted if he were to go on to win the title this week, and how golf is different than other sports where in this case, the right thing to do was just to pull himself completely out of the tournament.  Towards the end of the Live From telecast, Nick even became quite frisky in his seat saying the whole thing rubbed him the wrong way and overall was passionately upset with the ruling.

Then came the CBS afternoon live telecast.  When opening up the coverage, CBS anchor Jim Nantz not surprisingly asked Nick to explain his thoughts on the issue, to which Nick, well, pulled a complete 180.  Instead of the criticism towards Tiger, or drawing the committee’s decision-making process into question or any mention of how he felt Tiger should WD from the tourney, Nick suddenly expressed his agreement with the committee and how he was ok with the decision.

Wait a tic, what happened between the end of the Live From telecast and CBS’ afternoon coverage?  Well, other than Tiger issuing a statement saying that he accepted the decision, nothing new had happened.  Nick earlier had already known about the committee reviewing the situation (supposedly) during Tiger’s round yesterday, then hearing Tiger’s comments in his post round interview.  All of the details were on the table for Nick to stand his ground, yet he completely and suddenly changed his tune.

So, why the flip-flop you ask?  I truly believe that Faldo was scared to criticize the Masters committee even slightly on live coverage telecast airwaves, so much so that he’d put on a face and hat of opinion that he completely didn’t agree with just to appease the green jackets.  Why be so afraid of the Masters committee you say?  Well, take for instance fellow CBS announcer Gary McCord.  McCord has been a staple in CBS golf telecasts for decades, and is one of the more likable and enjoyable announcers in the game.  Back in 1994, McCord made a comment saying that the greens were so fast that it was as if the Augusta crew had put “bikini wax” on them, much to the dismay of the green jackets.  McCord also described a player’s chip shot from over the green on 17 as being down so low below the green that it was almost as if there were “body bags” down there.  Shortly after the tournament, McCord received a letter from the National and has been banned for life from the tourney’s telecast ever since.  Augusta also banned announcer Jack Whitaker after referring to the gallery as a “mob scene” instead of “patrons” back in 1966.  Talk about not bluffing.

It’s safe to say that Faldo was scared of something similar happening to him, even with him being a 3-time Masters champion.  I’m guessing that either Faldo received a warning ahead of the telecast from either fellow broadcaster Jim Nantz or someone else in the know and told him to zip it on his criticism towards the committee.  Nobody criticizes Augusta on their own turf and gets away with it.

A bizarre day in our beloved game to be sure.  How about a clean, penalty-free, exciting Masters Sunday birdie-fest everyone? Yes, please.

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

Comments

  1. Amen!! Well written.

  2. JHarris says:

    CBS, Augusta, and Team Tiger (aka…Nike) were all in on this one together. No doubt you’re correct about Faldo. He was warned ahead of time to “get on board” with the plan. I mean, listen to his explanation to Nance lol! Can ANYTHING sound more blatantly like suspicious backpedaling?

    The thing that amazes me here is that ANGC would bend to the pressure they were *certainly* getting from CBS and Nike the very minute word got out about Tiger’s self-incriminating press conference. Augusta has never given a darn about advertising, commerce, or anything other than their own reputation as a top notch tournament and defender of the game. More than anything, I’m upset about that one. This is a dangerous slippery slope and if anyone was gonna hold the honor of the game up, it would have been ANGC. But they failed. I can promise you two things, if Clifford Roberts was chairman, Tiger would be DQ’d. And if Bobby Jones made that drop, he would have never put a tee in the ground on Sunday. REGARDLESS of any ruling.

    • Straight up Amen to those comments JHarris- it’s an eye-opening confirmation of the changing of the times in our sport on the game’s highest level, the almighty corporate-tized dollar certainly won this time around.

      Joel

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