Friday, March 7, 2014
The Associated Press
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tiger Woods dropped two strokes at the Masters before he even hit a shot Saturday.
Tiger Woods takes a drop on the 15th hole after his ball went into the water during the second round of the Masters golf tournament Friday. On Saturday, Woods was slapped with a two-stroke penalty.
At least he's still in the tournament.
Woods got a reprieve at the Masters when he was given a two-shot penalty for a bad drop but avoided a more serious sanction - disqualification.
The decision stirred up plenty of debate on social media, with some fellow golfers claiming Woods got special treatment - especially coming one day after 14-year-old Guan Tianlang was penalized one shot for slow play, which nearly caused him to miss the cut.
"I think he should WD (withdraw). He took a drop to gain an advantage," David Duval, once Woods' top rival, wrote on Twitter.
"I guess Tiger is BIGGER than golf. Any other person in the world gets DQ'd. Gotta keep those TV ratings going right?" tweeted Kyle Thompson, who plays on a lower-level tour.
Hunter Mahan, who missed the Masters cut, praised the decision.
"I like this ruling because he took an illegal drop but no official brought it to his (attention)," Mahan tweeted.
Beyond dispute, the penalty made it harder for Woods to win his fifth green jacket. Instead of starting out Saturday's third round three strokes off the lead, he faced a five-shot deficit.
Jason Day was the leader at 6-under 138, one stroke ahead of Fred Couples and Marc Leishman. Seventeen players were within four strokes of the lead on what already figured to be a wild weekend, even before the stunning decision over Woods' drop during the second round at the par-5 15th hole.
The problem began after Woods' third shot hit the flag stick and ricocheted back into the water. He took his penalty drop 2 yards behind where he hit the original shot, which was a rules violation.
After a call from a television viewer, Augusta National reviewed the drop before Woods signed his card and found nothing wrong. Woods later said that he was trying to drop it behind the original spot. His interview prompted the club to review it again and Woods was given a two-shot penalty. That gave Woods a 1-over 73 instead of a 71 and a 143 total.
But club officials did not disqualify Woods for signing an incorrect scorecard under a new rule - announced at the Masters two years ago - that allows a player to stay in the tournament if a rules dispute was based on television evidence.
The decision grabbed more attention than any shot so far at this Masters. Woods not only is the No. 1 player and golf's biggest star, he had won two straight tournaments coming into the Masters. He was the overwhelming favorite to win, ending a five-year drought in the majors, and capture the green jacket for the first time since 2005.
While the violation was apparent, Augusta National took the blame by saying its rules committee reviewed a video before Woods finished his round Friday and determined the drop was within the rules. The club said a television viewer prompted the review.
Golf is the only sport where TV viewers act as rules officials. If they see a violation and it turns out to be true, a player must be penalized.
Woods, however, indicted himself by explaining how he took the drop.
"I went back to where I played it from, but went 2 yards further back and I tried to take 2 yards off the shot of what I felt I hit," Woods said Friday after he signed for a 71. "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."
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