Is Tiger Woods facing disqualification at Masters?
Tiger Woods may have violated rule 26-1 on hole No. 15 at Augusta on Friday at the 2013 Masters.
Updated: 8:21 a.m. ET.
Did Tiger Woods' actions after he drenched his third shot on No. 15 Friday at Augusta result in him signing an incorrect scorecard, which would result in his automatic disqualification from the Masters?
There's a possibility. Robert Lusetich of FOX Sports reported early on Saturday morning that officials were meeting to discuss whether or not Woods would be disqualified:
I've just been told by a high-ranking source that Augusta National is reviewing Tiger's drop but "it may take a little while" #dropgate— Robert Lusetich (@RobertLusetich) April 13, 2013
There was a lot of speculations late Friday night, but no definitive answer. So while no conclusion has been reached, let's walk through the events in question.
After his round Woods said about his shot into the water at 15:
"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."
Two yards farther back.
Woods had just dunked his third shot in the water in front of the green, walked to the edge of the water, walked back to the spot where he hit the shot and dropped his ball two yards behind the spot of his original shot.
He then hit that shot (his fifth) 3 feet from the pin and tapped in for bogey.
So why might he be disqualified?
It has to do with the drop, per USGA rule 26-1:
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 the hazard, 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; or
Woods apparently didn't choose "a" because two yards (as he said in his post-round interview) isn't "as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played." Although I admit "as nearly as possible" is incredibly vague so I suppose this is still an option for what Woods did.
And the second choice, "b," is in question as well (there is a "c," but it doesn't apply here).
According to this explanation by the USGA regarding "b," when a player's ball crosses a hazard three times (which Woods' did -- the front of the water, the back of the water and the roll into the water after the ball careened off the pin), this is how the drop is supposed to play out:
If a ball last crossed the margin of a water hazard as described in the situation above, it appears that the ball crossed the margin of the hazard three times (e.g., first, the initial time it crossed; second, when it crossed over the hazard onto land; and third, when the ball rolled back into the hazard). So when the Rule states that the ball must be dropped “keeping the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is to be dropped,” it is referring to the third (final) time. It is the reference point for the 26-1b option only.
Did Woods keep the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard "directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball was dropped?" It's hard to tell. It looked on TV like the ball shot off to the left, not between where Woods dropped and the hole.
If Woods played an incorrect ball, according to rule 20-7 he should be penalized 2 strokes and would have, theoretically, incorrectly signed his scorecard -- an automatic disqualification.
Whether Woods did anything wrong has sparked enough chatter about his possible disqualification to make us get very familiar with this portion of the rule book.
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