Unbeaten: Cape High golf team goes 4-0

April 19, 2013

The Cape Henlopen High Vikings golf team continued its winning ways April 11 with a 185-192 victory over a competitive Seaford High squad.

Playing at Heritage Shores in Bridgeville, Seaford’s home course, medalist Mason Jones again led the Vikings by carding a 41, a stroke ahead of Seaford’s best player that day. Jones had two birdies, on the par four 11th hole and the par five 18th.

After posting three consecutive 47s in his first three matches, sophomore Mike DeStasio shaved off a stroke for a 46.

Senior Michael Johnson tied DeStasio with his own 46, with pars on the 11th and 17th holes.

Head coach Claudio Smarrelli said Johnson is now calling Heritage Shores his favorite golf course. Johnson also recently learned that he’s been granted a full scholarship to the University of Delaware’s engineering program.

Tanner Nickerson played his very first varsity match, and Smarrelli was pleased with Nickerson’s 52.

Maddie Baptiste returned to the varsity lineup and tied her competitor with a score of 57.

Smarrelli remains pleased with his young team’s progress. “We are continuing to lower our numbers, but we need to go a lot lower,” he said.

A reminder of who’s in charge

Two years ago this month, just before the start of that year’s Masters Tournament, the Royal and Ancient and the United States Golf Association announced a major rules change to Rule 33-7 that was also aimed at television viewers who didn’t like what they saw.

In two separate incidents on two different pro golf tours that year, Padraig Harrington and Camillo Villegas were disqualified for signing inaccurate scorecards.

Eagle-eyed golf fans called in what turned out to be rules violations by the two hapless pros. The violations were inadvertent, but the consequences of the after-the-card-signing rules decisions were devastating.

In a joint statement, the guardians of golf amended the rule to give the competition committee the discretion to waive disqualification. Instead, the committee could impose the penalty strokes that would have applied, if determined when the violation occurred.

I think the general reaction to the rule change was pretty favorable, at the time.

Perhaps attitudes have changed, if last week’s Masters’ controversy is any indication. Or perhaps the negative reaction has more to do with who benefited from the amendment.

Tiger Woods hit the flagpole on the 15th hole on Masters Friday, and his ball ricocheted back into the pond. Woods walked back to where he hit his third shot, dropped a new ball, pitched that one onto the green, and carded a bogey.

In post-round interviews, Woods said that he’d dropped his ball two yards back from his original third shot, apparently under the mistaken impression that he had that option available to him under the circumstances.

After a golf fan contacted Masters officials about the incident, the committee met that evening to discuss the situation.

They met with Woods on Saturday morning, and discussed it with him. The committee imposed a two-stroke penalty, waiving the disqualification that would have otherwise stricken Woods from the remaining contenders.

The committee chairman then held a press conference to announce the result. The resulting media coverage, in multiple outlets, almost threatened to overwhelm the drama of the tournament, caused by the golfers who had a far better chance to win than Woods, under the circumstances.

Woods made a valiant effort, but the sterling performances of Jason Day, Angel Cabrera, and eventual Masters winner Adam Scott were far too much for him to overcome.

I don’t think there’s any question that the penalty strokes and the intense debate over whether Woods should have disqualified himself had their own effects on his performance in the last two rounds. I am not a big fan of Tiger Woods, but in this instance I think the harsh commentary was misplaced.

The new rule was put in place for just this kind of situation. It reminds us that the tournament competition committee is in charge, and not the spectators, whether on site or at home in their man caves.

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