So far the 2013 Masters Tournament has had plenty of good stories, like 14 year-old Guan Tianlang making the cut or 53 year-old Fred Couples in contention again, but the big story so far this morning is the controversy brewing over the drop Tiger Woods took on the 15th hole yesterday.
Woods’ third shot on the 15th hole from 87 yards hit the flagstick and bounced into the water hazzard. After weighing his options, he dropped a ball back in the fairway and hit his 5th shot to three feet and made the putt for a six. Or so we thought…
After his round, he was asked about the 15th hole during a post-round interview and he may have incriminated himself. ”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.”
Whoops! Let’s take a look at the rule in question (26-1) under which he took the drop shall we? (via USGA website)
If a ball is found in a water hazard or if it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found is in the water hazard (whether the ball lies in water or not), the player may under penalty of one stroke:
b. Drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped; or
c. As additional options available only if the ball last crossed the margin of alateral water hazard, drop a ball outside the water hazard within two club-lengths of and not nearer the hole than (i) the point where the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard or (ii) a point on the opposite margin of the water hazard equidistant from the hole.
The text in bold is what we’re interested in here. Tiger stated he dropped his ball 2 yards back from the original spot which, by definition, is not nearly as possible to the spot from which the original ball was last played. This is a pretty clear cut situation to me, and if you follow the letter of the rules there should be no other outcome that the obvious one. He should have been assessed a shot penalty. Instead of a 6, he should have made a 7. He signed an incorrect scorecard.
Tiger should be disqualified.
UPDATE 09:41am 4/13/2013: Augusta National has given Tiger Woods a 2 shot penalty but he has not been disqualified. Under Rule 33-7, Augusta National decided to give Tiger a 2 stroke penalty rather than disqualify him. The rule is below:
A penalty of disqualification may in exceptional individual cases be waived, modified or imposed if the Committee considers such action warranted.
Any penalty less than disqualification must not be waived or modified.
If a Committee considers that a player is guilty of a serious breach of etiquette, it may impose a penalty of disqualification under this Rule.
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