Monday, January 22, 2018
Golf

Woods penalty spotlights golf rules

Golf's complicated, arcane rules can make the game hard to understand in the mildest of circumstances. In trying to sort out what was in play in Tiger Woods' drop controversy at the Masters, tackling quantum physics might be easier.

The rules range from the options Woods had after his wedge into the par-5 15th hole in Friday's second round struck the flag stick and bounced into the water to the rationale for not disqualifying him for signing an incorrect scorecard.

Pulled together by the Associated Press, they total almost 35 inches in length.

A simple summary is that the Masters competition committee penalized Woods two strokes for violating Rule 26-1(a) because in choosing to drop his ball near the original shot to continue his round, he did not drop "as near as possible" to the original spot.

Woods was not disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard because of Rule 33-7, which protects a player who did not know he violated a rule before signing and later was reported to have done so by people watching on television. The rule gives the discretion of whether to disqualify a player to tournament officials.

A TV viewer Friday questioned the way Woods took his penalty drop, about 2 yards behind where he had hit his previous shot. Fred Ridley, head of the competition committee, said officials reviewed the video of the drop and found nothing wrong, so they didn't bother talking to him before he signed for 71.

It was only after Woods explained in interviews why he took that drop — to land short of the pin — that prompted another call to the club and led to another review that led to a two-shot penalty awarded Saturday before the start of the third round.

The penalty took Woods' score for the round from 1-under 71 to 2-over 73 and dropped him from three shots off the lead to five. Though Woods was guilty of breaking the rule, even unknowingly, Augusta National took the blame for not alerting him of a potential violation pointed out by a TV viewer. Therefore the club said it wouldn't disqualify him from the Masters.

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