Tiger Woods almost got disqualified from the Masters but was instead assessed a rare two-shot, after-the-fact, retroactive penalty on Saturday morning for an illegal drop on the 15th hole in the second round of the Masters on Friday.
Woods is now at -1 for the tournament instead of at -3
In an incredible turn of events on Friday, Woods’s 3rd shot on the par-5 15th hole almost went in the hole. But his ball hit the flag stick and went into the water. Woods took the option of dropping the ball “as nearly as possible” from the original spot and playing the shot again. He hit an incredible shot, landing the ball stiff three feet from the hole and saving bogey.
But it turns out Woods’s drop was not legal because he did not drop the ball “as nearly as possible” to the original spot, and his score on the par-5 15th is now an 8 instead of a 6. Woods is now at -1 for the tournament instead of -3.
After his round, Woods said in an interview that he “went down to the drop area, that wasn’t going to be a good spot, because obviously it’s into the grain, it’s really grainy there. And it was a little bit wet. So it was muddy and not a good spot to drop.
“So I went back to where I played it from, but I went 2 yards further back and I took, tried to take 2 yards off the shot of what I felt I hit,” Woods said. “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 that was going to be the right decision to take off four right there. And I did. It worked out perfectly.”
After those comments, viewers wondered whether the drop was legal and CBS golf analyst David Feherty wondered on Friday night if Woods’s drop was in fact legal.
Masters officials reviewed the drop all evening and morning and made the decision to assess the four-time Masters champion a retroactive two-stroke penalty.
As ESPN noted, according to a 2012 USGA rules revision, Woods does not have to be disqualified because of the rule (Decision 33-7/4.5) that allows officials to address “the situation where a player is not aware he has breached a Rule because of facts that he did not know and could not reasonably have discovered prior to returning his score card.
“Under this revised decision and at the discretion of the Committee, the player still receives the penalty associated with the breach of the underlying Rule, but is not disqualified.”
The rule modification is referred to as the “Padraig Harrington rule” by players and is sure to generate some controversy, especially after 14-year-old amateur Tianlang Guan got assessed a rare one-stroke penalty for slow play for taking 50 seconds to hit an approach shot while the winds picked up on the 17th hole. He is believed to be the first person in the history of the Masters to ever be assessed such a penalty, and barely made the cut on the number because he was at +4, because of the penalty.
Graeme McDowell, who has won multiple majors, tweeted, “Take the fact that it was Tiger out of the equation and it is a fair ruling.”