Tiger Woods' Use of TV Interview Evidence Is Bizarre Turn to Penalty Ruling

Mike ShiekmanFeatured ColumnistApril 13, 2013

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 12:  Tiger Woods of the United States drops his ball after he hits it into the water on the 15th hole during the second round of the 2013 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 12, 2013 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In a stunning turn of events, Masters officials were prompted to investigate an illegal ball drop from Tiger Woods after the golfer’s statement in a Friday interview with ESPN's Tom Rinaldi.

Following the Masters officials' research, they assessed a two-stroke penalty to Woods, dropping the world’s No. 1 golfer to 19th place and five shots behind the leader.

Using a post-match interview as evidence signifies a turn into the digital age for one of the world’s oldest sports. In one of America’s strictest and most tradition-filled venues, once officials got word of Woods’ testimony, it was certain he wouldn’t start the weekend unscathed.

At first, Woods’ drop checked out and had been declared legal while he finished up his second round late Friday. After getting hold of Rinaldi’s video interview, though, Masters officials looked back into Woods’ misstep and made the subsequent ruling.

In addition, during the time between Woods taking the drop and signing his “illegal” scorecard, he was not approached about the incident. He first heard about his infraction early Saturday morning, per Woods’ Twitter account:

Tiger’s omission can be seen in his interview transcript below, as he describes his drop following his misfortune on hole No. 15 (h/t to Wei Under Par):

“So I went back to where I played it from, but I went two yards further back and I took, tried to take two yards off the shot of what I felt I hit.
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 that was going to be the right decision to take off four right there.  And I did.  It worked out perfectly.”

By moving two yards back, Woods had misused his drop privilege in concordance with the hazard rule. He needed to play in the exact spot where he had hit previously or dropped it left of where the ball crossed the water.

If this incident had happened five years ago, it’s very possible the event would not have been double checked after the interview had taken place. But with the easy access of video streaming and availability of press conferences and interviews to the public, the eyeballs and ears on players are infinite, none moreso than Tiger.

What does it say about golf in the technology age when scores are being changed a day later?

The phrase "stick to your guns" has never been more folly.

Now that his statement has affected his score at a major championship, it’s likely viewers won’t be hearing much from Woods anytime soon. This incident will turn him tight-lipped in interviews from here on out. 

ESPN's Rick Reilly echoes this sentiment with a tweet following the penalty announcement:

Anyone who had been interested in an introspective look at Tiger Woods, or even a golf tip or two from the world’s best, lost out on any compelling interviews in the future.

Mike Shiekman is a Breaking News Writer for Bleacher Report.