Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

TV viewer's call saves Tiger

Drop violation would have DQ'd him if Masters fan hadn't phoned it in

  • Print

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Augusta National kept Tiger Woods in the Masters on Saturday, saying it would be "grossly unfair" to disqualify him for a rules violation that club officials didn't immediately recognize.

In a bizarre twist to a complex case, it was a television viewer's phone call that ultimately spared the world's No. 1 player.

The viewer questioned the way Woods took a penalty drop after his wedge into the par-5 15th hole struck the flag stick and bounced back into the water. Woods dropped the ball two yards behind where he had hit his previous shot, a violation.

Fred Ridley, head of the Masters competition committee, said officials reviewed the video of Woods' drop and found nothing wrong, so they didn't bother talking to Woods before he signed for a 71 in the second round, leaving him three shots behind.

It was only after Woods explained in interviews why he took that drop -- to land short of the pin -- that prompted another call to the club and led to another review. Woods ultimately was given a two-shot penalty Saturday morning, turning the 71 into a 73. But he was not disqualified because of a revised rule (Rule 33-7) that allows players to stay in the tournament if a dispute was based on television evidence.

Woods took advantage of his reprieve to shoot a 2-under 70 Saturday that left him four strokes off the lead held by Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera.

Although Woods was guilty of not knowing the rules, Augusta National took the blame for not alerting him to a potential violation pointed out by a TV viewer.

"Our committee had made a decision and Tiger, although he didn't know that decision, he was entitled to have the benefit of that decision when he signed his scorecard," Ridley said. "And to me, it would have been grossly unfair to Tiger to have disqualified him after our committee had made that decision."

Woods came to the course at 8 a.m., nearly six hours before his tee time, to review the video with club officials.

In a statement posted on his Twitter account, Woods said he was unaware he had violated the rule. Players can take a drop as far back as they want on a line from the hole to where it crossed the hazard unless they choose to hit from the original spot. In that case, they are to drop as close as possible to the previous shot.

The possibility that Woods might face disqualification caused a bigger buzz than any shot at this Masters, especially one day after 14-year-old Guan Tianlang was penalized one shot for slow play, which nearly caused him to miss the cut.

But this was Tiger Woods, No. 1 in the world, the biggest draw in golf. He had won two straight tournaments coming into the Masters and was the overwhelming favourite to win a green jacket for the first time since 2005 and end his five-year drought in the majors.

Ridley, a former U.S. Amateur champion who served two years as USGA president, said Woods was candid about his drop and helped the committee make the right decision in docking him two shots.

"At that point, it was either no penalty or a two-shot penalty," Ridley said. "But disqualification (Saturday) morning was not even on the table."

Rule 33-7 was revised two years ago to account for TV viewers calling in violations the players might not know about until after they have signed their cards. If no one had called in, Augusta National would have had no reason to review the drop. But after Woods implicated himself with his post-round comments and the club had reviewed the drop and assessed the two-shot penalty, he would have been disqualified.

There is a distinction between not being aware of a violation and not knowing the rules. In this case, Woods didn't know the rule. The mistake was on the part of Ridley, who didn't recognize the violation and chose not to talk to Woods before he signed his card.

The club said CBS Sports announcer Jim Nantz alerted Masters officials that Woods' post-round comments were causing some doubts, leading to another review.

Woods had said after his round, "I went back to where I played it from, but went two yards further back and I tried to take two yards off the shot of what I felt I hit. And that should land me short of the flag and not have it either hit the flag or skip over the back.

"I felt that was going to be the right decision to take off four (yards) right there, and I did. It worked out perfectly."

He hit that fifth shot to about four feet and made the putt for bogey.

Photos and video replays show his first divot clearly in front of where Woods took the second drop. Ridley said one reason he didn't see a clear violation the first time was that Woods' caddie never moved from the original spot. Ridley said the Masters gets a dozen or so calls a day, and he didn't see a violation.

"It was my decision, because it was a non-violation, that I was not going to go down and tell Tiger that we had considered this and it wasn't a violation," Ridley said.

"I didn't see at that point in time that really was going to add anything to where we were."

Hunter Mahan summed up the mess on Twitter: "If you think tiger should be dq'd your not wrong, if you think 2 shot penalty is enough your not wrong. Not sure the right answer."

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 14, 2013 B3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

HSC ready for Ebola

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Canada goose makes takes flight on Wilkes Ave Friday afternoon- See Bryksa’s 30 Day goose a day challenge- Day 09- May 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Winnipeg’s best friend the dragon fly takes a break at English Gardens in Assiniboine Park Wednesday- A dragon fly can eat  food equal to its own weight in 30 minutes-Standup photo- June 13, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who has been the biggest disappointment on the Jets to start the season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google