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One More Attempt To Clarify 33-7 v. 33-7/4.5

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.

Got that?

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.

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Reader Comments (100)

I still contend The Committee has inadvertently made itself responsible for a correct score card by stepping on this slippery slope.
04.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterForeRight!
I still contend this committee investigation was a made up event in order to invoke rule 33.7. I also think there was a second shooter behind the grassy knoll so take it for what it's worth.
04.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJRP
How can a viewer see an improper drop while the Rules Committee cannot see it. Especially when they were specifically looking at it. With the ESPN truck at their disposal.

IMO, ANGC fabricated the story of a viewer call-in so that they didn't have to DQ Tiger Woods. They already had one PR Fiasco with the Guan Slow play Penalty
04.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGPB
Agree with JRP on first item. No opinion re second shooter a d the containment mound.
04.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTighthead
I am curious what the general take-away is regarding Tiger and adherence to rules (generally). Will he get tagged a'la Monty or Vijay or others, or is all forgiven and forgotten. I still contend and agree with those that have stated that the fact is, he derived an advantage from his drop, as he stated, and should have WD'ed. Others disagree, obviously. But what will carry over to Tiger ?
04.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
No carry over to Tiger, but he had a big chance teed up right in front of him...whiffed it.
04.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
So can gamblers move the odds in their favor by being hyper vigilant and strategically calling in violations?
04.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJGolf
The $64,000 question:

Would Steve Williams have known about the rule regarding the drop?

Bonus question:

Is Joe Lacava the new Bobby Brown? (the one who is DJ's caddie)
04.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChanning
The only thing missing from Fred Ridley's press room performance was a Blue Velvet Curtain.

And I'm not buying his manufactured contrition either.
04.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterEraser Head
The Europeans used to have a notorious reputation for pushing the limit on rules issues that required estimation or interpretation and would take the benefit of the doubt if it was ever offered.

I remember one year at The Players on the par 5 11th, Bernard Langer's second shot followed the water line of the lake, eventually landing in it. He claimed that the ball faded and thus took a drop 200 yards up the fairway from his previous shot. The officials basically said "do what you think is right." The announcer - Koch or Kostis - were beside himself.

Langer didn't break any rules - just like Tiger didn't break any rules. But, the incident certainly made an impression and told you where this guy stood in terms of willing to live with doubt in order to gain a one-time advantage.
04.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAbu Dhabi Golfer
In Fred Ridley's interview given Saturday morning he states that the committee had information that they felt Tiger deserved to have prior to signing his card.

Fred, your incorrect in making that statement. Let me help you out here. Tiger had information that you and your committee needed.

Watching the video doesn't clarify anything to the drop Tiger takes on 15. It doesn't matter if the divots are four yards apart. What truly mattered Fred was for you and the committee to follow Rule 34-3/9, Your committee, (if a call actually did come in) had a Resolution of Questions of "FACT" on your hands. This is the committee's responsibility to every contestant in the field. You and your committee had an obligation to get out to 15-16-17-18 or before Tiger Woods entered the scoring area to ascertain the "FACTS" to his drop on 15. You and your committee did not fulfill your responsibility under Rule 34-3/9

Fred, lets say you and your committee did drive out to 15 just for the fun of it. There, Tiger Woods says to the committee, I came back up to this location and dropped as close as possible to "where I felt like I last played from" even though the divots are four feet apart. Under this scenario you and you committee are back in your carts driving back to the clubhouse without him getting a two shot penalty because he has told you that his INTENT was to drop under 26-1a. And its that INTENT that you and your committee didn't seek as covered under Rule 34-3/9. Without following proper procedure covered by 34-3/9 you and the committee didn't resolve any Questions of Fact. In fact, no pun intended, you didn't gather any facts.

When you said your committee reviewed the video and concluded no penalty had occurred, under Rule 34-3/9 a caller (911) has given the rules committee "testimony" of fact, at that point it was up to the committee to gather "MORE TESTIMONY" from Tiger himself and Tiger's playing competitors in his group. If a caller had called in to say they felt an illegal drop had occurred you and the committee couldn't possibly ascertain that an illegal drop had occurred without getting FACTS from Tiger and his group.

Back to you stating in your interview given Saturday morning where you say the committee had information that it felt Tiger Woods deserved to have, and that the committee felt bad that it didn't give Tiger. What would that information be? Because lets face it, Tiger Woods had the information the committee needed to make a ruling and render a decision. Tiger Woods has the information the committee needs, not the other way around. Under 34-3/9 Tiger Woods has the information. Without going to Tiger the committee breached Rule 34-3/9. The committee had no Resolution Of Facts to form an opinion, a ruling, much less a decision. Your committee had zilch to go on, the pertinent information your committee needed resided in Tiger's testimony as to his INTENT in taking relief.

I could see Nick Faldo having dinner with Jim Nantz late Friday night, and a rerun of the telecast playing somewhere close by. All of a sudden the post round interview of Tiger Woods starts to air. Faldo sits up straight, did Tiger just say that he took that drop back two more yards?!?!?! Waiter, hand me that remote over there. Rewinds, listens to it again, yeh, I took it back two yards! Jim, did you just hear what he said, he took that drop back two more yards. Yeh, Nick i heard it. Do you know what that means. Not exactly Nick, what does that mean. It means he's dropped using 26-1b's relief, not 26-1a's. But Nick are you sure? Positively, I've been DQ'd for doing the same thing. Nick what are you going to do. Jim I'm gonna get you a house phone and your going to call the committee right now, I am. Yes, I can't be the one to call them about this. Ok, grab me a phone.

The committee gets Jim's call. Jim, we're up here partying, what can't wait until tomorrow. Fred, turn the music down. Listen. You and the committee need to listen to Tiger's post round interview about a drop he took out on 15 today. Why, whats the problem. Well, according to Nick he's taken an illegal drop and played out, then signed an incorrect score card, and its gonna be an automatic DQ in the morning. Is this an April's joke because i'm not in the mood Jim. I'm not bullshitting you, pull the post round interview up, and do it now. CLICK

Video rolls," I took it back two yards ".....anybody here have any ideas. Uuummmmm, noi. THINK damn it...Fred, how about this, we say a caller phoned in, yeh, a caller phoned in and the committee reviewed the video and found it conclusive. I like it go on. Well, we say we looked at the video replay and didn't see anything. What about not going to Tiger. Well, we say we didn't see anything that looked like a penalty occurred and then we come up with some lame excuse as to why we didn't go to Tiger. Yeh, the video was inconclusive. It sounds plausible, yes, we're going to go with that one. At least it explains why we didn't ever get with Tiger.

Fred, buddy, its time to come clean. In the committees haste to concoct this B-rated movie your committee covered all the rules except Rule 34-3/9, I know you didn't see that one coming, but that's the one that super glues your committee to Rule 33-1. This glues you to 33-1 because of the rest of the contestants. By not gathering more FACTS to your BS 911 caller cover story you and the committee had nothing to run on other that a caller called in to say an illegal drop had occurred, your committee is stuck with the accusation of an illegal drop having occurred without testimony from Tiger Woods. So the only thing your committee had to go on was the accusation of an illegal drop occurring and video that clearly shows Tiger Woods dropping well away from his original divot. Based on that information alone you and your committee can't make a claim that nothing wrong happened because the video fits the accusation. The only thing that could refute that information is testimony from Tiger Woods saying in effect, i dropped as close as possible as to the last location that I played from. The only thing you and your committee have to go on without his testimony is video that shows him take two steps back from his original divot and a 911 caller telling you he took an illegal drop. The only thing that can refute that is his testimony.

Its extremely difficult to start gathering testimony around 10:30pm, thats what explains to a lot of us that the 911 call didn't come in during the round, but came in much later at night from Jim Nantz. Had it come during the round, or from a walking scorer, fellow competitor, fan, marshall, you and the committee would have drove out there to ascertain INTENT which is protocol to Rule 34-3/9. The call didn't come during the round because no rules official never showed up. Someone accuses the number one player in the world of taking an illegal drop and nobody, NOBODY shows up....Pleazzzzzzzzzzz

Without a Resolution covering questions of FACT you and your committee have nothing to go on. What was at question from the phantom 911 caller was Tiger Woods INTENT.....and you and your committee never bother to ascertain that information. LMAO..!!!

Fred, you and the committees story simply isn't believable.
04.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSean Murphy
I am still very uncomfortable with this ruling but it is not unprecedented apparently although that's a big surprise to me.The European tour evidently applied the rule in a similar fashion in India a year or two ago.
04.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChico
I'm waiting for the American team to concede victory to Europe in the 1989 Ryder Cup, as Azinger took an illegal drop on the 18th in his halve against Seve...
04.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
Very well done Sean. For a guy like Ridley (and the rules committee) to blatantly ignore 34-3/9 while citing 33-1 makes me think that the entire call-in (or text from a friend of a rules official which I read somewhere) story is a fabrication. They had all night to figure this out and they ended up looking more incompetent than Tiger. Now they are off the hook generally speaking because Tiger did not win. Those that know and care about the game were bewildered that Tiger even teed off on Saturday, but not surprised that Augusta fell on the sword. It has happened before and it will happen again.

The five players who finished at one under ended up in a tie for 13th all look like they have a decent chance to qualify for the field again next year as well (Couple and Els exempt), so probably no outcry from them either.

Nike's new slogan: Rule 33 Takes Care of Everything.
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterNRH
No, seriously, I think the best way forward is to create a rule that scorecards can be re-opened until the conclusion of the tournament. Remember, it's "72 holes of stroke play", not "four rounds of stroke play".
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
A missed opportunity for all concerned - DQ or no DQ...

TIGER AND JOEY - should have known the rules better.

or spoken with HAWKEYE - the format he suggests would do the trick nicely. ANC could declare this, the Hawkeye clause, a new toonamint condition.

PLAYING PARTNERS AND THOSE WITH THEM - should have noted, though understandably they were distracted by the drama of the shot, rebound, Tiger's steely reaction, brilliant second pitch, etc (in a way ANC could have said THAT alone is "exceptional circumstances")

ANC - should have noted the original infringement and invited Tiger to "remember" the correct rule and call the penalty on himself before signing.

ANC again, after Tiger's interview - COULD have declared that under the "exceptional circumstances" clause they were going to impose 2 shots waive the DQ to cover for their own error. They could have come clean that they made a mistake. Having said that they should have noticed before the card was signed, they could have then said that the "exceptional circumstances" clause is there for a committee to use discretion.
Billy Payne, a good performer, could have persuasively argued that when Tiger is leading the Masters, and everyone is watching, and nobody nearby (no player or caddie or commentator) notices until after the card is signed, then it IS an exceptional set of circumstances. Tiger is hustled through signing so he can meet the press, etc. They could have said that they KNOW this is clearly not the intent of the original rule, which is made for every golfer, not the tiny minority who play on TV. But, they could have continued, this is a situation in which a 2 shot penalty is fairer than a DQ. They could have (and IMHO should have, once they were not going for a DQ) said - "it's our tooniment, and we're gonna bend the rules in favour of what we think is equity". (not ideal, but more honest and clear)
I agree with Sean and others that the review and phone call story is vague and unconvincing. ANC would have looked better if they had said "we feel bad - it's exceptional that such a simple blunder was not picked up before signing, in this unique toonamint".

ANC saying "our toonamint makes the circumstances exceptional" would have forestalled what many of us fear - that in the monthly medal, or in other tour events, people will start haggling over completed scorecards - mere anarchy is loosed upon the world...

Or, perhaps much better, TIGER - could have said "rules are rules", with a big grin thinking about his Guan comment, and DQd himself. Everyone would have loved that.

TIGER - when people in pres conferences said "surely this is over the top for two yards", could have said NO, it's not two yards, it's signing for an incorrect low score (with a million bucks on the line). That aint trivial it's the biggest breach of the rules you can make, and when you do that, even unintentionally, you have to leave the party. There are millions of golfers worldwide who understand this and play by it every week. "I don't play by different rules".

THE PRESS - could have been clear about that key point. Tiger was not getting DQd over two debatable yards, but over signing a falsely low number, and in golf you can't have referees monitoring play as in football, etc. DQ is harsh, but it makes sure that players take responsibility. And it's there because DQ is NOT harsh if people want to make up numbers.

Almost every regular competition golfer, professional or not, has been close to a case of DQ for unintentional rules violation or scorecard error. We've done it, or we've noticed it, or we have consoled makes you sick, of course. But it also makes you look good, in a way - individually and collectively as golfers. And if a player takers it graciously, he definitely (and rightly) looks good.

Sorry about another long post. I've enjoyed the discussion here. Cdnt resist.
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSmithy
I love it. Lots of references to the ANGC "story" being vague or a "fabrication" and the call didn't come in at the time they said and they didn't review during Tiger's round. All of this supposition without one single fact to contradict what was presented by ANGC, the former President of the USGA, a confirming statement by the USGA, or a similar use of waiving the DQ for Lee Janzen in 2001 at the US Open.
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGoose
Now JGolf, you know a gambler would never consider doing such a thing. A bit of Masters lore via Dodson holds that a big-time gambler - who stood to lose a fortune if one of the favorites got upset by some good-time hacker - took Billy Joe Patton by the arm on 13 and told him his mama had been rushed to the hospital back home.
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
According to the camera angle from the grassy knoll, the drop was back and to the left...back and to the left...back and .....
Hawkeye: "No, seriously, I think the best way forward is to create a rule that scorecards can be re-opened until the conclusion of the tournament. Remember, it's "72 holes of stroke play", not "four rounds of stroke play".

I like the idea, but for one reason: the cut line. What happens if the transgression occurs on Thurs or Fri and the interpretation is made on Sunday? If a penalty is invoked which would have resulted in missing the cut, whatdayado?
04.17.2013 | Unregistered Commentermeefer
The point is that ANGC has sold out. Jim Nantz has no business opening the broadcast with "a tradition unlike any other." The mystique is gone. The Masters, already was, but is now undoubtedly a business. It is still a beautiful golf course that anyone would like to play, except Sergio, but the tournament as a competition has been permanently scarred. It is sad that after standing their ground in other areas of controversy that they would cave on this. I guess they have shown some improvement though. The good old boys club still exists, only they have replaced racial prejudice with economic prejudice. Sorry Tianlang, when you are breaking Tiger's records in ten years you will get the same consideration. Until then...
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrent
I think what was "fabricated" (I prefer to believe Ridley simply "took liberties in describing the truth") was the extent of the ANGC rules committee's "review". If one guy gives a quick look to the tape, is that the action of the entire committee? Is that a ruling? Did the entire committee see the tape? When? Did they even discuss it?

And what I still have trouble with is this "33-7/4.5 was not invoked" malarkey. Of course it wasn't invoked! Why? Because then the committee would have to contend with its limitations on their ability to waive DQ! But it's still a RULE. And it still applies to the situation, whether they cite it or not!
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterShivas
Could we please cut out the Kacynski-like manifestos? Seriously, you not that important and looking at it gives me a headache!
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMiles Massey
@Hawkeye - I like the idea. It doesn't affect the cut line because a DQ on Sunday for a violation on Thursday would not change the cut.

However, assuming that ANGC is moral, forthright, upstanding and truthful, the committee, or any tournament committee, should involve the competitor before he or she signs the card, determine the facts, and a decsion by the competitor and/or committee could take place before turning in the card and avoid an unnecesaary DQ of the competitor. Once committee has made decision, right or wrong, all competitors should abide by the rule. In this case, Tiger should have continued to play; not to do so would essentially be saying that the committee doesn't know what it's doing and should not be trusted.
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHBL
I am told this is not the first time tiger has gotten a favorable ruling at ANGC. I think it was about 8 years or so ago. He went in to tap in a short putt. To avoid his fellow competitors line, stood on an extinction of his putting line. A clear violation of the bobby jones Sam sneed rule. The committee " reviewed" the tape and rule that the video was also inconclusive.

The real gas on the fire is that the next year, a new decision came out stating that if you do what tiger just did, it is ok if you are doing it to avoid a players line if putt.

I would love to know if any one els was timed this week. I like the fact that they gave out a pace of play penalty, but if they say they want to help the game, they need to give out way more till players playing with no rough and many ball spotters can play on 4 hours.
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark
@meefer: Good question. I think if a rules transgression on Thursday or Friday that would have led to missing the cut is discovered on Sunday, then that would logically lead to a retroactive MC. The big problem I can see with my proposition is if a weekend discovery of a weekday transgression were to mean that the cut line should have been one stroke higher. But still, most phone-ins occur before the start of the next day's play, so while it is possible, it's unlikely that it would happen.

@smithy: The Hawkeye clause - I like the sound of that! ;)
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
Fred, lets say you and your committee did drive out to 15 just for the fun of it. There, Tiger Woods says to the committee, I came back up to this location and dropped as close as possible to "where I felt like I last played from" even though the divots are four feet apart. Under this scenario you and you committee are back in your carts driving back to the clubhouse without him getting a two shot penalty because he has told you that his INTENT was to drop under 26-1a.

Sean, could you expand on this point? Are you saying that if Tiger had told the Committee that his intent was to drop under Rule 26-1a (even if the location at which he dropped did not meet the requirements of that rule) then he would have been absolved of penalty?
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
The Committee fouled up. Tiger should have been assessed a two stroke penalty before he signed his card. Then all would have been fine.

By the way Sean. You are too terse. You need to expand on your opinions.
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStanley Thompson
Hey-- the web says Tiger earned $352,000 last week. Doesn't seem like those guys running the tournament CARE what we think!
04.17.2013 | Unregistered Commentersmails
This is exactly what the ANGC Rules Committee Chair said on CBS minus the part about the caller saving Tiger's bacon.

I still marvel how people get the phone numbers for this stuff. If I Google the club I can find a couple phone numbers. Do they have operators standing by?
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe O
mark - that was 14th hole during the 1st round at the 2005 Masters - And Tiger went onto win that year. I forgot who the announcer was on that hole, but he did utter the word "straddle" - but they never replayed it - ever. It looked very close, and I assumed they would show the replay and was surprised that they did not just to clear it up and remove the doubt.

It was only a month after the creation of YouTube - there was hardly anyone posting video online for the masses yet. And, it predates golf blogs like this and others. There were some online discussion groups that talked about it, where people who post things while watching the live coverage, but the press left the story alone.
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGonuclear
Agree or Disagree, you are entitled to your opinion. In the end though it's the committee's job to make the final ruling. They did. And it is not without precedent, especially at the masters. Anyone writing that this shows ANGC cares most about the money, or Jones rolling over in his grave, or in the past a player would have WD'd or whatever, needs to do a better job studying their history.

Now can we get back to you know, the golf?
04.17.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
PS - and he was not straddling his line to avoid Carlos Franco's line. On the previous hole, Tiger had actually putted his ball off the green and into the Rae's Creek tributary. He was very pissed. The incidident on the 14th looked like it was an instance of casual disdain with his temper still running high from the previous hole.

That said, the final round fireworks that year all but completely obscured any controversy and allow the legend to continue its growth.

Maybe the golf gods took note judging by his Masters record after that.
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGonuclear
I don't really feel like discussing the merits of the no-DQ vs. DQ thing anymore, but I'd just like to add another clarifier so that anybody who doesn't know this now knows this: Rule 33-7 is NOT a new rule. It has been around since 1952 (it was Rule 36-5 back then). The new "rule" is decision 33-7/4.5
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRES
Well put elf. The committee said "2 strokes, play on". That's what Tiger did. How is that wrong?
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad
Well, it is guaranteed that this will not go away.

I am already looking forward to the next year's edition of The Fridley Boo Boo Invitational brought to you by Rule 33-7
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAbu Dhabi Golfer

Tiger did not do anything wrong. It was the Masters Rules Committee that was wrong in their handling of the situation. Their eventual decision was fair given their initial failure. They initially tried to give Tiger the benefit of the doubt (read "special consideration") on the drop without further investigation and it was the wrong decision given what they later discovered. I agree with those who say Tiger had the opportunity to improve his stature with golf fans had he WD'd but he was under no obligation to do so. In the end he got off on a technicality and ANGC shot itself in the foot.
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrent
In the end, the overriding principle that Tiger Woods has brought to the top in golf, its organization, its supervision, and its coverage is: Follow The Money.
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRLL
I have a question for all the posters here. Do you remember what Tiger Woods said to the press Saturday morning after meeting with Fred Ridley's rules committee?

Press: What was it the committee said that kept you from disqualification?
Tiger: There is this new rule, i think its a couple years old, I guess its the Padraig Harrington rule.

That explanation by Tiger really floored me. You've just gotten called out to Augusta National early Saturday morning about a rules infraction that you've admitted in a post round interview and the best explanation you can give the press about why you are not DQ'd is you "guess" the committee is using the Padraig Harrington rule..?!?!? I'm rolling on the floor right now!! You go over your rules violation for probably an hour with this committee and two minutes later you yourself don'w know why you were resolved of penally. Posters, am i missing something here??

Tiger, when asked by the press how your non-DQ has come about, just refer back to US, say something like the committee is using some new rule, you think its the Padraig Harrington rule, that you weren't disqualified because of the committee has told me i can continue to play.

Tiger doesn't even know the rule this committee used to pardon him.....BWahahahaaha
04.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSean Murphy

The Committee has several "jobs," and "to make the final ruling" is by far the easiest when others are dismissed for pointing out when they make atrocious ones. They made a horrible ruling, were most likely dishonest in their justification for it (i.e., that someone called in), and were motivated more by finding a way not to disqualify Tiger Woods than ruling objectively. Why are you protecting them?
04.17.2013 | Unregistered Commenterwilliam

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