Tiger Woods got a reprieve Saturday in the Masters when he was given a two-shot penalty for a bad drop but allowed to stay in the tournament.
Woods’ shot on the 15th hole of the second round hit the flag stick and bounced back into the water. He took his penalty drop two yards behind where he hit the original shot, which was a violation of the rules.
Augusta National added the two-shot penalty to his score, meaning he had a 73 instead of a 71 and now is five shots out of the lead. Officials said he was allowed to stay in the tournament under a new rule that keeps players from being disqualified based on television evidence.
The four-time Masters champion could have been disqualified for signing an incorrect score. The penalty drops Woods to one under par, five strokes behind leader Jason Day with two rounds left.
Woods’ third shot from 87 yards hit the pin and caromed off the green, down the slope and into the water. Instead of going to the drop area on the other side of the water, Woods chose to take the one-shot penalty and play his fifth shot from the area of his original shot.
Fred Ridley, chairman of the Masters competition committees, issued this statement:
“In preparation for his fifth shot, the player dropped his ball in close proximity to where he had played his third shot in apparent conformance with Rule 26. After being prompted by a television viewer, the Rules Committee reviewed a video of the shot while he was 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.”
Woods’ fifth shot landed short of the hole and spun to a stop about 4 feet to the left of the flag. He made the putt for a bogey.
“I went back to where I played it from, but went two yards further back and I tried to take two yards off the shot of what I felt I hit,” Woods said Friday after he signed for a 71, leaving him three shots out of the lead. “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.”
Woods began his year with a rules situation in Abu Dhabi. He took relief from an embedded lie in a sandy area covered in grass. He was entitled to a free drop except in sand, and Woods was given a two-shot penalty. He was alerted of this before he signed his card, and the two-shot penalty caused him to miss the cut.
Woods, the No. 1 player in the world, was the favorite coming into the Masters to end five years without winning a major. He has not won the Masters since 2005