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Nicklaus says not DQing Tiger was correct ruling

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Jack Nicklaus thinks Tiger Woods got the proper ruling at the Masters.

However, he's not so sure he agrees with the slow-play penalty given to 14-year-old Chinese phenom Guan Tianlang.

Woods' third shot on the par-5 15th in the second round hit the flagstick and ricocheted back into the water. He took his drop from two yards farther back -- contrary to the rules -- from the spot where he hit originally, and ended up making a 6. Tournament officials later said he deserved a two-stroke penalty for the violation, but not disqualification.

"Could they have disqualified him? Probably," Nicklaus said Wednesday at a luncheon celebrating his support and that of his Memorial Tournament for Nationwide Children's Hospital. "But you've got all the best rules heads together and they said that they thought there was no intent to do anything (improper) and that two strokes was a strong enough penalty. And you move on."

Nicklaus, a winner of 18 major professional championships to Woods' 14, spoke on a variety of golf-related topics from anchored putters to renovations at Muirfield Village, which hosts his Memorial Tournament next month and also the Presidents Cup in October. Nicklaus said he didn't blame Woods for not disqualifying himself.

"People say, 'Should Tiger have withdrawn himself?' I don't think so at all," Nicklaus said. "If Tiger did that, he'd be putting himself in a position of saying, 'I'm above the rules.' You accept the ruling whether it's good or bad for you."

The 73-year-old Nicklaus wasn't so certain about the one-stroke penalty given to Guan for slow play during the second round at Augusta.

"He's in the eighth grade! The eighth grade and he's playing in the Masters!" Nicklaus said, smiling. "And he gets a penalty? Can you imagine giving a 14-year-old kid a penalty for slow play?"

He added, "There's hundreds of guys who are much slower probably than (he was) and they figure out a way to get away with it."

Nicklaus said he undoubtedly spent too much time over many, many putts over the years.

Guan accepted the penalty without complaint.

Jim Furyk, winner of the U.S. Open in 2003, also chatted on the dais with Nicklaus before a large crowd at Ohio State's student union.

Of Guan, Furyk said, "He handled it better than most of us would."

On Wednesday during pro-am day at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans -- where Guan will be playing again this weekend -- 2012 Masters champ Bubba Watson said perhaps more penalties need to be handed out for slow play on tour.

"I think that -- not just the Masters -- I think there's times on the PGA Tour where it should have happened before. I think we should always give strokes (for slow play)," he said.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 25, 2013 D6

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