Masters Assesses Tiger Woods' 2-Stroke Penalty for Illegal Drop

Fred AltvaterContributor IIApril 13, 2013

Tiger Woods' drop at No. 15 cost him a two-stroke penalty.
Tiger Woods' drop at No. 15 cost him a two-stroke penalty.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Tiger Woods was making his move on Friday at the Masters. He was at five-under par for the tournament through 14 holes and ready to take command of the 2013 Masters.

He pushed his drive at the par-5 No. 15 right into the pine straw and in the trees. Woods could not risk attacking the green and was forced to lay up short of Rae’s Creek.

Playing his short third shot to the green, his ball hit the pin and ricocheted back into the water protecting the front of the green.

If his ball would not have hit the pin, it most certainly would have finished close to the hole and given him an excellent chance for a birdie to get to five-under par.

Woods was forced to take a drop. At this point, he had three options from a yellow-staked hazard.

Under the rules, he could use the drop zone, he could take a drop along a line where the ball last entered the hazard or he could drop as near as possible to his previous shot. As near as possible are the key words here.

Tiger mentioned in his post-round interview that he took his drop two yards behind his previous divot. Video review shows that the drop was clearly two to three feet behind the previous spot. Is that as near as possible? Did that create an unfair advantage for Woods?

Augusta National Headquarters released the following statement regarding the Tiger Woods drop at No. 15 during the second round on Friday.

Yesterday afternoon, the Rules Committee was made aware of a possible rules violation that involved a drop by Tiger Woods on the 15th hole.

In preparation for his fifth shot, the player dropped his ball in close proximity where he played his third shot in apparent conformance with Rule 26a. 

After being prompted by a television viewerthe Rules Committee reviewed a video of the shot while he as playing the 18th hole. At that moment and based on that evidence, the Committee determined he had complied with the Rules.

After he signed his scorecard, and in a television interview subsequent to the round, the player stated that he played further from the point than where he had played his third shot. Such action would constitute playing from the wrong place.

The subsequent information provided by the player's interview after he had completed play warranted further review and discussion with him this morning. 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.

In this statement, the Masters Rules Committee was alerted to a possible rules violation prior to the conclusion of Woods’ round. They determined that he had complied with the rules and no violation had occurred.

The statement also mentions that Woods said in his post-round interview that he dropped the ball two yards behind his previous start.

Woods was allowed to sign his card for his one-under par 71, which would have put him tied for seventh in the field. However, the subsequent two-stroke penalty changes his score to 73 and leaves him tied for 19th and five shots behind leader Jason Day.

This is a comedy of errors and places Woods in a very uncomfortable situation.

Many fans and media are calling for Woods' disqualification. The fact that the Masters only assessed a two-stroke penalty does not seem to conform to the rule of disqualification for signing an incorrect scorecard.

If Woods should continue to play and win this week, his win would be forever tarnished. He is chasing Jack Nicklaus and running out of time. He was in perfect position to collect his 15th major title.

Even though the Masters has not disqualified Woods, he may be forced to withdraw to avert even more controversy.