Tiger Woods was penalized two strokes for violating Rule 26-1a and/or 20-7c yet avoided disqualification under Rule 6-6d or 33-7/4.5, instead he was absolved under an obscure, maybe unprecedented use of 33-7.
I understand the confusion over Tiger's penalty and non-WD. I misunderstood it initially because the first reports, by Tom Rinaldi (ESPN) and Steve Sands (Golf Channel) mentioned 33-7 and the recent rule change involving HD video, which was the 33-7/4.5 Decision not invoked in this case.
I tried clarifying it in Golf World Daily, have written about the episode in this week's Golf World, posted this Barry Rhodes item on the matter, but for now, just read John Morrissett's Facebook post on the Erin Hills website if you still aren't sure why Tiger avoided disqualification.
The key graphs:
While this seems like a complicated set of facts, the ruling becomes straightforward when it is boiled down to its basic elements: On Friday the Committee made an incorrect ruling (of no penalty), and on Saturday the Committee corrected that incorrect ruling. The key is that, before Tiger returned his score card on Friday, the Committee had reviewed the incident on 15 and made the ruling of no breach. (Even though the Committee did not tell Tiger of this ruling, it was still a ruling.) On reflection, the Committee realized it made an incorrect ruling and corrected that ruling on Saturday (with ample authority and precedent to do so).
If the Committee had not become aware of the incident and had not made a ruling before Tiger returned his score card on Friday, then it would have been a straightforward disqualification. It is interesting to note, therefore, that the timely telephone call actually prevented Tiger from being disqualified.