When he isn't squirting various hypothetical juices in various hypothetical eyes, Rick Reilly® is usually recycling his own material. Yesterday's column finds him complaining about golf's picayune rules. Again.
At the PGA Championship this weekend, Dustin Johnson grounded his club in a generously defined bunker and was assessed a two-stroke penalty, costing him a spot in the playoff. Reilly took umbrage at golf rules that he termed "dumb as a box of hair," which, if you remember your Reilly® (and you shouldn't), might remind you of the time a few years ago he took umbrage at golf rules he termed "dumber than Elimidate."
That 2003 column was prompted by Thomas Bjorn's loss at the British Open by a stroke. Like Johnson, Bjorn had been penalized for grounding. Reilly thought that ruling was "dumber than dirt," and he went on to wax cranky about the golf's petty rules, many of which he waxed cranky about yesterday. Again.
Phil Mickelson was nicked with a one-stroke penalty because his ball moved in the 35-mph wind as he was addressing it with his putter. Mickelson said the wind moved his ball six or seven other times that day when he wasn't ready to putt. So what do you do, have your manager call God?
If the wind moves your golf ball and your club was near it, or addressing it, it's counted as a shot. That's not a shot, that's an act of God!
What about divots, Rick? 2003:
Having to hit out of a divot in the middle of a fairway is the "worst rule in golf," says Tiger Woods. And do you realize you can get 100 members of the gallery to move a 2,000-pound rock off a green, but you can't shake the water off the branch of a tree before hitting?
You can't move it. Congrats, you've just been penalized for hitting a fairway. You can get a free drop from ground under repair, a French drain, a staked tree, a man-made obstruction, a fence, a wall and a crane, but you can't get a free drop from some guy who swings like John Henry? It's man-made!
What about when someone accidentally signs for the wrong score? The You-Break-It-You-Buy-It rule has to go, right, Rick? I mean, what if basketball operated like this? Crazy!
Roe shot the best round of the Open, a 67 on Saturday, to sneak to within two shots of the lead. Except he'd forgotten to exchange scorecards with his playing partner, Jesper Parnevik, who, being loonier than a $1 Canadian coin, also forgot. In the end Roe mistakenly signed the card for Parnevik's 81 and Parnevik signed for Roe's 67, and both were disqualified. Can you imagine this happening in other sports? Uh, Shaq, you signed for 38 points and you only scored 36, so the Pacers win the title!
The famous Roberto De Vicenzo incident at the 1968 Masters. You sign for a higher score, you get that score. Makes absolutely no sense. Does Kobe Bryant have to keep the game score? Does he lose if he gets it wrong? Is math a golf skill?
Rick Reilly's self-plagiarism has been far more egregious in the past. But it's worth noting that this latest column began with a specific, worthwhile, and timely complaint about a sport Reilly knows very well, and then he just seemed to lose interest entirely and decided to reheat some old tripe. I'd point out here that Reilly was paid a "ridonkulous" amount of money to write a weekly column, and that he is that rare columnist who can write about whatever he wants, and that with so much freedom, it's absurd that he nonetheless chooses to repurpose some old hackwork — I'd say all that except that, well, we'd just be plagiarizing ourselves. Again.