Tiger Woods is reportedly facing a possible disqualification at the Masters. When discussing his round on Friday evening, Tiger spoke about the ball he dropped after his shot hit the pin on hole 15 and rolled into the water. Here is what he said, via CBSSports.com.
“I went down to the drop area, that wasn’t going to be a good spot, because obviously it’s into the grain 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 two yards farther back and I tried to take two yards off the shot of what I felt I hit.”
If that’s true, that would be illegal. The official rule reads as follows.
It is a question of fact whether a ball that has not been found after having been struck toward a water hazard is in the hazard. In the absence of knowledge or virtual certainty that a ball struck toward a water hazard, but not found, is in thehazard, the player must proceed under Rule 27-1.
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:
a. Proceed under the stroke and distance provision of Rule 27-1 by playing a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5); or
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…
Woods’ explanation of being “two yards father back” and having to take a little bit off the shot is seemingly an admission that he did not drop his ball as nearly as possible to the spot where his initial shot was played. If that’s the case, he should have been assessed a two-stroke penalty. Since he was not and signed the scorecard, that would mean he signed an illegal card. Doing so would lead to an automatic disqualification.
According to FOXSports.com’s Robert Lusetich, Augusta National was reviewing the drop as of Saturday morning but would likely have to wait to speak to Tiger before coming to a conclusion.
When watching a replay of the shot on television, it appeared that Tiger dropped the ball about 2-3 feet behind a divot which may have been caused by his initial shot. Whether or not 2-3 feet is “as nearly as possible” to his first shot is something course officials will have to determine. Whereas the actual rule leaves room for interpretation, I would be shocked if Woods was disqualified.
UPDATE (9:34 a.m.): According to ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi, Woods has been assessed a two-shot penalty but will not be disqualified. Due to a rule change in 2012, the rules committee is now able to go back and assess a penalty and allow the player to keep playing even after they signed an illegal scorecard, rather than disqualify the player.