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Tigers Penalty: Woods Assessed 2-Shot

Tiger Woods got a bad break, took a bad drop, but will live to play the weekend at the Masters — with two strokes added to his score — due to a revision to the Rules of Golf made two years ago.

Woods was deemed to have taken an improper drop on the 15th hole during the second round of the Masters at Augusta National on Friday, when his approach shot hit the pin and bounced back into the water.

He made a bogey-6 on the hole, which on Saturday morning was revised to a triple-bogey 8.

Instead of a 1-under-par 71 he was given a 73 and will start the third round five strokes back of 36-hole leader Jason Day in pursuit of his fifth green jacket.

Woods explained the situation on Twitter on Saturday morning.

“At hole #15, I took a drop that I thought was correct and in accordance with the rules,” Woods wrote. “I was unaware at that time I had violated any rules. I didn’t know I had taken an incorrect drop prior to signing my scorecard. Subsequently, I met with the Masters Committee Saturday morning… and was advised they had reviewed the incident prior to the completion of my round. Their initial determination… was that there was no violation, but they had additional concerns based on my post-round interview. After discussing the situation… with them this morning, I was assessed a two-shot penalty. I understand and accept the penalty and respect the Committees’ decision.”

Before 2012, Woods would have been disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. Under new rules enacted by the United States Golf Association and R&A in 2011, a player can have penalty strokes added afterward when facts were not reasonably presented at the time of scorecard signing.

“This is a logical and important step in our re-evalution of the impact of high-definition video on the game,” said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis at the time the new rule was announced in August 2011. “We collectively believe that this revised decision addressed many video-related issues never contemplated by the Rules of Golf.”

Fred Ridley, former president of the USGA and the chairman of the Masters competition committees, detailed the timeline of events surrounding the penalty in a statement released Saturday morning.

“After being prompted by a television viewer, the Rules Committee reviewed a video of the shot while he was playing the 18th hole,” Ridley said in the statement. “At that moment, based on the 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 it’s intitial determination prior to the finish of the player’s round.”

According to the USGA website, the “revision to Decision 33-7/4.5 addresses the situation where a player is not aware he has breached a rule because of facts that he did not know and could not reasonably have discovered prior to returning his score card. Under this revised decision and at the discretion of the Committee, the player still receives the penalty associated with the breach of the underlying Rule, but is not disqualified.”

Reaction was swift and all over the golf map as the story unfolded over night and into Saturday morning.

Three-time Masters champion Nick Faldo said on the Golf Channel: “Tiger should really sit down and think about this and what it will leave on his legacy. Personally, I think this is dreadful. … That was no intention to drop close to the divot.”

But current players were positive in their reaction.

Fred Couples called it “a blessing for every golf pro in the world.”

“We all know that we’ll get the same ruling if it happens to one of us,” said Couples, 1 shot back entering Saturday’s round.

Graeme McDowell, who at 5 over missed the cut by 1 shot, tweeted Saturday morning that he agreed with the penalty.

“Take the fact that it was Tiger out of the equation and it is a fair ruling,” McDowell posted to Twitter.

Hunter Mahan, who shot a second-round 82 and missed the cut at 14 over, also weighed in via Twitter.

“I like this ruling because he took an illegal drop but no official brought it to his attn,” Mahan wrote.

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