Masters 2013: Tiger Woods given two-shot Masters penalty

 

Tiger Woods has been given a two-stroke penalty at the Masters, avoiding the threat of disqualification.

Woods said his second-round drop at the 15th was taken "two yards away" from the original position, which should have incurred a two-stroke penalty in addition to the bogey he carded.

Was the penalty right?

"Golf is a game that prides itself on integrity. The rules are complicated and myriad but adhered to diligently and in most cases unflinchingly. Players often call penalties on themselves. Not knowing the rules is not accepted as an excuse."

That meant he signed an incorrect scorecard, for which the penalty is usually disqualification.

Woods said on Saturday he was unaware at the time he had violated any rules.

The 14-time major winner started his third round on one under, five behind leader Jason Day.

The United States Golf Association rule 26-1a  states that a player must take their drop "as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played".

After being alerted by a television viewer to a possible breach of that rule, Masters officials decided there was no case for Woods to answer.

But after Woods revealed in his post-round news conference that he had dropped the ball away from its original position, officials revisited the issue.

After meeting the player on Saturday they decided to apply a recent reinterpretation of the rules,  meaning that rather than disqualifying the four-time Masters winner they would only levy a two-shot penalty.

Analysis

This is using a rule that has been brought in to try to alleviate the situation where players are disqualified for signing for the wrong scorecard as a result of HD television evidence coming into play. This seems to me a very tenuous way to keep Tiger Woods in the tournament. There is an awful lot of feeling within golf that Woods broke a rule - inadvertently, but he did break a rule in regard to how he dropped a ball at the 15th. They have used a technicality here I feel to keep Woods in the tournament. This is a huge controversy that will not go away.

The amendment was made to stop players from being disqualified for signing the wrong scorecard when television pictures later showed they had unknowingly moved the ball.

Fred Ridley, chairman of the competition committee, said: "After meeting with the player, it was determined that he had violated Rule 26 and he was assessed a two-stroke penalty.

"The penalty of disqualification was waived by the Committee under Rule 33 as the Committee had previously reviewed the information and made its initial determination prior to the finish of the player's round."

Before beginning his third round, Woods said he accepted the penalty.

"At hole #15, I took a drop that I thought was correct and in accordance with the rules. I was unaware at that time I had violated any rules," Woods tweeted. 

"I didn't know I had taken an incorrect drop prior to signing my scorecard. Subsequently, I met with the Masters Committee Saturday morning and was advised they had reviewed the incident prior to the completion of my round.

"Their initial determination was that there was no violation, but they had additional concerns based on my post-round interview.

Tiger Woods Masters penalty: analysis and reaction

"After discussing the situation with them this morning, I was assessed a two-shot penalty. I understand and accept the penalty and respect the Committee's decision."

Woods, who at one stage shared the lead with Day on Friday, was unlucky to find trouble at the 15th when his approach hit the pin and rolled back into the water.

He returned to where he played the original stroke, eventually carding a six at the par-five hole, before revealing in his post-round news conference that he may have dropped the ball further away than permitted.

"I went down to the drop area, that wasn't going to be a good spot," said the 37-year-old.

"And it was a little bit wet. So it was muddy and not a good spot to drop.

New rules explained

  • Royal & Ancient and US Golf Association announced a new interpretation of one of the rules of golf before the 2011 Masters
  • Players who learn of a violation after they sign their cards can be penalised without being disqualified
  • Padraig Harrington's ball was seen to move after he replaced his marker at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship by a viewer watching on HD television
  • Harrington was unaware the ball had moved, and because this was discovered after the round he was disqualified for signing an incorrect card
  • Had he known the ball had moved, Harrington would have incurred a two-shot penalty

"So I went back to where I played it from, but I went two yards further back."

Even though Woods was able to continue his quest for a fifth Green Jacket, three-time Masters champion Nick Faldo believes the American should have disqualified himself from the tournament.

"He still has time," Faldo told BBC Radio 5 live before Woods got under way. "He is going to be watching this and he knows what has gone on. If he is smart and if he understands we have got to uphold the rules of this game, the gentlemanly conduct and the integrity of our game.

"He took advantage and he knows he took advantage and he knows you are not allowed to."

The 2001 Open champion, David Duval, agreed with Faldo.

He said on Twitter: "There is some leeway with signing the incorrect card. Not with intentionally not dropping as near as possible.

"I think he should withdraw. He took a drop to gain an advantage."

But Graeme McDowell, the 2010 US Open winner who missed the cut at Augusta, ‏tweeted his support for the decision.

He said: "Take the fact that it was Tiger out of the equation and it is a fair ruling. Since it is him the debate begins about TV ratings etc etc."