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« Woods Assessed Two Shot Penalty For Erroneous Drop, Avoids DQ | Main | Costas: I'd have to discuss Augusta's "History of racism and sexism" »

Tiger's Drop On 15: Grounds For DQ?

Some on Twitter and commenting here, as did Jim Nantz and David Feherty on CBS's Masters evening highlight show, questioning whether Tiger Woods violated the rules and faces disqualification over an incorrect drop on the 15th hole Friday.

Tiger reportedly told ESPN's Tom Rinaldi in the post-second round interview and in this scrum with writers that he dropped his ball "two yards" behind the original spot after his third shot hit the flag and finished in the lake. A video replay on ESPN confirms that he was a good yard or two behind the original divot.

Shannon Rouillard explains the options for a ball entering a water hazard in this April, 2011 USGA article. Besides the provided drop circle, Tiger had these options:

2. play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5); or
3. drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped. 

So technically, his ball LAST CROSSED on the green side of the lake, which would mean he had to drop as "near as possible" to the original location. The divot for that can be seen in the above photo when enlarged.

Will that be considered "as near as possible?" Is a deliberate "two yards" as near as possible?

If Woods deliberately played the shot two yards behind the original spot, that is not as near as possible. Considering Tiger's "rules are rules" comment after the round when responding to the Guan violation, it's going to be difficult for the committee to claim that he was as "near as possible" when he says he deliberately dropped a certain distance from the original spot.

Here are the video highlights from ESPN. You can see Tiger's play on No. 15 at the 2:00 minute mark.

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Reader Comments (156)

Regardless of what happens (and I shared my thoughts within seconds of him saying it in the interview - someone could have said something sooner if they saw it when he was on 15), I expect a Decisions update in 2014 to address this particular rule. If Tiger's not DQed, I hope he wins by 3 or more now...
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterErik J. Barzeski
If he took an illegal drop, do you still hope he is not DQ'd?

Why does this event make you wish for him to win going away? Do you feel this is a form of persecution?

Not trying to be snarky like I sound.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTighthead
It does seem that Tiger either mixed up the options, or didnt think about the line the ball took on its way into the pond. He basically stated that he moved back on purpose to get some space. Will be interesting to see Augusta takes this up.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
No way is that "as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played." This will be interesting...
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Tighthead, to whom are you talking?
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterErik J. Barzeski
Geoff, 26-1b was still an option but a spot fitting that option would have been near the start of the bridge or in/behind the grandstand i.e., not realistic.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
This will change the rule in my opinion on players receiving penalty strokes that they did not know they revived. I would love to see Tiger not get DQ'd, but he all so need to add TWO. But at this moment in time, that is not an option. Any one know the name Roberto De Vicenzo, this may be bigger.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered Commentermark
So if they dq Roberto..and the same day nailed a kid for slow play, will they have the stones to ...
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChicago pt
EJB, I think he is accurate replying to you.

A real shame we won't see Tiger playing this weekend.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMiles Massey
I think, as much as I'd like to see Tiger get to 19, that he dropped knowingly and illegally, and should be DQed.

But Rory kicked the sand and wasn't penalized, and it all hinges on whether a Rules Official okayed the drop and/or how they determine "as nearly as possible."

My exact words at 7:33 was "he could get DQed."

I agree with KLG that it will be interesting.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterErik J. Barzeski
@BrianS doubt he could see it, from same interview said he didn't even know what happened except crowd because shot was straight into sun.

Shrug Furyk backed up 10yds from original spot to give himself better lie, but of course he fatted it, so probably crossed on relatively the same line.

You're not going to drop into the divot (& you never see a pro do that) so what is as close as possible? FWIW heard a couple rules people who didn't have a problem with it. Probably shouldn't be DQ'ing people in majors for things that aren't black and white
04.12.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
This could short circuit what might otherwise be an epic Masters. Will potentially crowd out every other great story on the weekend. It needs to be cleared up one way or another right away.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPJ
@Erick I might not know much, but I know that he didn't drop knowingly and illegally and then "admit" it in interviews with press and Rinaldi
04.12.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
Elf - I always thought the divot was nearer the hole because the divot should be ahead of where the ball was.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTighthead
Maybe a dumb question but couldn't you in theory drop the ball at the closest spot only to see it bounce two yards or so away and behind that spot?
04.12.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjgw
I think Tiger will voluntarily withdraw from the tournament. If he doesn't, it's pretty clear he should be disqualified. There is a long history of golfers calling themselves out on rules violations. It would do wonders to restore an "honorable" image. At this point, if he doesn't, and he is forced into a DQ - or worse, they let him skate somehow - he'll be forever brandished as a "cheater" on the golf course too. This is a pretty clear rule.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterScott
elf, yes he did. He said he dropped two yards back and took two yards off the shot.

That's knowingly.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterErik J. Barzeski
Balls don't bounce two yards uphill, either.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterErik J. Barzeski
@tighthead ok at start of divot :P point is you rarely see a pro drop next to their divot, cause that'd be dumb

@erik there's a diff between knowing you are further back, and knowingly taking (i.e. on purpose) an illegal drop. I guarantee Tiger thought drop was legal.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
Transcript is not good for TW - crystal clear intent to not play from same spot.

"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. "
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKeithT
If 2 yards is "as close as possible" then what about 2.5 yards or 3 or 5?
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGrey Lag
elf, sorry, I think Tiger possibly just brain farted and mixed the two options. He thought he was back on the same line but brain farted - possibly - and forgot that the ball last crossed the hazard well to the left.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterErik J. Barzeski
Roberto was not DQ'd. He signed for a "4" because that is what Tommy Aaron wrote on his card, instead of the "3" he made. So he had to take the 4, which meant that he was out of the playoff with Bob Goalby. Roberto finished second. He would have been DQ'd if he made 4 and signed for a 3. If Tiger was in breach of Rule 26 he should have signed for an 8 instead of the 6 on his card...

elf: As was noted in the previous thread, if the ball lands in the divot it is closer to the hole and the player gets to drop it again without penalty.

I think it's pretty clear that Tiger just had a brain cramp because of the shock of what happened. But that doesn't mean he wasn't in breach of the rule and consequently signed for 2 strokes less than he should have. Intent doesn't matter. It didn't when Michelle Wie was DQ'd the next day after the writer, who will remain nameless because I'm only 90% sure of who he was, pointed out that she took a drop from the wrong spot. Inadvertently. Tiger clearly didn't drop as close as possible to the original divot, which he admitted. This was discussed previously and at length ;-) Anyway, a professional can drop a ball pretty close to a sprinkler head when it behooves him to do so, so that is not the issue.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
The tv admission means he's toast.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat
KLG. My bad on Roberrto, thx
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChicago pt
Oops. Tighthead beat me to the divot thing. My apologies.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
As a former LPGA Rules Official my only observation beyond a rule clearly broken is the Committee under Rule 33-7 may in exceptional cases waive a penalty of disqualification. They can also modify if the Committee considers such an action warranted. Any penalty LESS than disqualification may not be waived or modified. Under equity they may move him to one under for a wrong drop(2 stroke penalty). Committee must determine it is not a serious breach that gave the player a SIGNIFICANT ADVANTAGE. U b the judge? I would rule he shot 71. Others may say 73. DQ is too punitive in nature. The decision rests with the COMMITTEE. Good night

04.12.2013 | Unregistered Commenterkenny
Well, given "who, what, when, and where," this one is certainly "exceptional." But DQ after the failing to account for penalty strokes a player did not know he or she deserved has *always* been too punitive. Has the Committee ever gone along with that? Anywhere?
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
He admitted intentionally dropping the ball to get a better yardage for his shot. Should be an open and shut case. DQ.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDr. Fager
@kenny, thanks for your post. We might assume he's safe, then, because it's difficult to argue that he gained a significant advantage by hitting from two yards behind a spot from which he'd just hit the flagstick. But I know some will argue otherwise, so we'll just have to wait and see. In spirit, I also know that spirit is irrelevant, but I still think that in spirit, a perfect shot (the flags are there for players to aim at, you know) ending up in the water is punishment enough.

But what a horrible break it was, I can't recall ever seeing that at The Masters before. I know it happened to Byron Nelson at the 16th in 1947, and that was even before Jenkins' time.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
Tiger Woods: Official, we live in a world that has TVs, and those TVs have to be watched by men with remotes. Who's gonna do it? You CBS? You, USGA? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Mickelson, and you curse the World #1. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That DJ blowing up, while tragic, probably saved viewers. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, makes money. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that TV, you need me on that TV.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRon
If he keeps the point between him and the hole, he can go as far or as close as he likes. Can you prove he didn't keep the point where it crossed between him and the hole?
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterScott
Can Ms Rice tell Tiger that he is done? Please! Just think, so Condalisa, you want to be a member her, can you tell Tiger that him and Ms Von are no longer welcome till next year.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered Commentermark
Scott - he wasn't on the correct line. Everybody knows that rule.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTighthead
Read what Tiger said. He specifically said that he dropped it 2 yards further back to get a different yardage so he wouldn't hit the flag again.

This isn't that hard to figure out.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGrey Lag
Tiger didn't do it knowingly. He was probably confused. He wouldn't knowingly break a rule then say it on TV. He was obviously confused.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterNLM
Ball entered hazard on far side of green on different angle after hitting flag.
He was NOT on the line the ball last crossed hazard line.

It's a unfortunate (to me) rule, but sounds like he should be dq'd
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKarmaiscoming
This seems to be gaining steam. It is now showing up at this late hour on main sites and Google searches. Why did it take so long? It was not even mentioned AT ALL on the 2 hour Live From show on the Golf Channel.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterD.
Follow the money.
04.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGrey Lag
Your way of saying "knowingly" as if it is some kind of exception to a breach of rules is so far off. If I didn't know stealing or murder were illegal would that make it less of a crime? Ignorance does not change the fact that it is a breach of the rules. Tiger had a laspe in his judgement and messed up the rules. It should cost him. All the other players have to play by the same rule book. Dustin Johnson called the penalty on himself in the PGA Championship because he thought he may have grounded his club in a bunker. That cost him the tournament. But it is the rules. (Sidenote: whistling straits is an awful design)
04.12.2013 | Unregistered Commentersnp

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