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Rules expert turned in Tiger at Masters

NEW YORK — The TV viewer who reported the illegal drop Tiger Woods took during the second round of the Masters was more than a fan. It was David Eger, a rules expert who has worked for the U.S. Golf Association and the PGA Tour, Sports Illustrated reported Wednesday.

Eger said he was watching the Masters at his Ponte Vedra Beach home when he replayed the 15th hole to see how Woods had made bogey. Woods hit the pin with his third shot, and the ball caromed into the water. He dropped from around the same area, hit into 4 feet and made bogey.

"I could see there was a divot — not a divot, a divot hole — when (Woods) played the shot the second time that was not there the first time," Eger told the magazine. "There was that divot hole, maybe 3 or 4 feet in front of where he played after the drop."

Eger, 61, who plays on the Champions Tour (he has played in the tour event at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor), said he called Mickey Bradley, a PGA Tour rules official who was working the Masters. Bradley was no longer at the course, but he called Fred Ridley, chairman of the Masters competition committee.

Bradley said he also sent a copy of Eger's text message to Ridley and Mark Russell, the tour's vice president of competition who serves on the Masters committee.

Woods eventually was given a two-shot penalty for the drop, but he was not disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. Ridley said at the Masters he reviewed the video and didn't see a violation, so he chose not to bring it up to Woods before he signed his card.

Woods later said he dropped the ball a few yards back to avoid hitting the pin, and more questions were brought to Ridley's attention later. Ridley met with Woods before the third round and assessed the penalty.

The magazine said Ridley responded by text message to Bradley that Woods' drop was closer than Eger's estimate of 3 to 4 feet and to look at it closer would be "splitting hairs." That's why he chose not to bring it up with Woods before he signed his card.

The USGA and Britain's Royal and Ancient issued their interpretation of events Wednesday, saying Woods did violate the rules but allowing him to remain in the Masters was correct because its rules committee failed to meet with him before he signed his card. The ruling bodies made clear, though, that the case is unusual and shouldn't be considered a precedent.

Singh out: Vijay Singh withdrew from the Wells Fargo Championship, which begins today, citing a sore back, one day after the PGA Tour said it would not punish him for admitting he used deer antler spray. The tour said Tuesday the World Anti-Doping Agency informed it the spray contains only small amounts of a banned growth hormone. The tour had been set to sanction Singh. Singh has not communicated with reporters since a statement in January saying he was shocked to learn the spray might contain a banned substance.

12-year-old in China Open: When Ye Wo-cheng tees off at the China Open today, he'll be the youngest to play in a European Tour event at 12 years, 242 days. He is 287 days younger than Tianlang Guan, who was 13 years, 177 days when he played in last year's China Open. Guan last month became the youngest to compete in the Masters at 14.

Rules expert turned in Tiger at Masters 05/01/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 11:47pm]
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