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The 16th at the WGC-Bridgestone: Was Calling Time Out of Line?

Padraig Harrington (above) was called for time within the rules … but was it right?

Before the 16th hole, it was turning into an epic final round at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. In the final pairing, Tiger Woods trailed Padraig Harrington by 1, going into the 16th hole. With Tiger gaining momentum and putting pressure on the leader, Harrington was forced to match him shot-for-shot.

Just then, the clock was called on Harrington.

Rules official John Paramor put the clock on the pair, when he felt that they were trailing too far behind the pair in front of them. This can be done by golf officials when they feel that players are taking too much time in play. Paramor was perfectly within his right, and within the rules, to call time on Woods and Harrington, but it obviously affected Harrington’s play.

Soon afterward, Harrington, uncharacteristically, shot his ball over the green and into the water. He ultimately shot an 8 on the Par-5 hole, triple-bogeying and giving four shots to Woods, who birdied. When it was over, Woods had won the event, and Harrington was tied for second, four strokes behind him.

After the win, Woods criticized the official, saying to Harrington, “I’m sorry that John got in the way of a great battle.”

While Harrington put the blame squarely on himself for letting the 16th, and the called-time, get the best of him, Woods disagreed. “I don’t think that Paddy would have hit the pitch shot that way if he was able to take his time, look at it, analyze it. But he was on the clock, had to get up there quickly and hit it.”

Today, Woods was still critical of Paramor’s call, saying he still didn’t understand why he called time on the pairing, considering they were so far ahead of the rest of the field, there was no reason to rush their play.

The way I see it, I agree with Woods. From what I understand, the whole point of calling time on a pairing is to keep the game competitive AND timely. But, I would assume that, considering Woods and Harrington was the FINAL pairing, it shouldn’t matter as much. I get the fact that it is in the rulebook. Like I said before, Paramor was perfectly within his right to call time.

The question is, should he have?

This was an exciting final round, with Tiger trying to gain ground on the leader. It was all about the thrill of the competition – the pressure on both players was already palpable. Paramor’s action was not only unnecessary, but it was downright unfair. How can you argue that an action like calling time, in that particular situation, helped the game? As far as I’m concerned, Paramor ruined a perfectly competitive final round by implementing a rarely-used rule.

This reminds me of an incident I read about awhile back – appparently, a game-winning home run by Central Lakes College, in a women’s softball state tournament, was called back because the opposing coach enforced an obscure rule (which also turned out to be interpreted wrong). As a result, they ended up losing in extra innings. My point is, neither of these incidents had to happen – they were predicated on rarely-implemented rules (respective to their situations), that ended up giving a perceived unfair advantage to the opponent.

When it came down to it, the rule was there – but, in this case, it just didn’t have to be implemented.

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