Jay Busbee breaks down the latest Tiger Woods ball drop controversy, the third this year (as Bob Harig noted in his story about the situation at 14 tee Sunday at The Players). The Big Lead has about two minutes of the telecast posted.
After watching the recording multiple times, reading the description of the shot and hearing NBC's Mark Rolfing describe it, that at best, playing partner Casey Wittenberg's assertion appears to be a stretch when suggesting where the ball crossed the hazard. As quoted in an unbylined AP notes story:
"He asked me exactly where it crossed," Wittenberg said. "I told him I thought it crossed on the corner of the bunker, right where he took his drop. And it's all good."
I'm guessing Sergio Garcia wouldn't have seen it this way based on the commenters here who could smell trouble right from the get go and also had some wise follow-up observations.
At least based on the blimp shots and the obvious skepticism from Peter Jacobsen and Johnny Miller, the ball would have had to have flown very straight, then hooked hard at the end. It does not take a genius to see by Tiger's reaction and the video, that the hook was immediate, not late as Wittenburg's drop point would require.
As noted in Harig's story, the PGA Tour's position was clear: this was the call of Woods and his playing partner Casey Wittenberg with help from Mark Rolfing of NBC. Since Woods took his eye off the ball by the time it made the purpoted late hook, he could not speak with certainty about where the ball crossed the hazard. The call is Wittenerg's then.
The PGA Tour's Mark Russell, as quoted by Harig:
"They both saw it," Russell said of Woods and Wittenberg. "They're back there with a television commentator [NBC's Mark Rolfing], who basically agreed with them. He said he hit a high hook. The problem is on television, that area looked the same, and they thought he dropped up there where it splashed. He dropped it 60 yards back of that. The players had the view of it."
What caused the doubt for me was this statement by Rolfing speaking of hazard stakes by tees on the fairway side of the lake, no where near where the ball crossed:
"It looked like it was over water at this point, if not before."
"Before" seems to be what the video and screen captures suggest.
Here is the overview photo of the hole as taken from the blimp, which did not appear to move much and had what seems like a very good angle to capture the tee shot's general flight.
Below is the "at this point" Rolfing refers to, which appears to be well right (from the player perspective on the tee) of the entry point detailed in the third photo.
Thanks to all the readers who sent in this YouTube analysis by filmmaker John Ziegler dissecting Tiger's 14th hole tee shot, questionable drop and NBC coverage of the situation. Now, it should be prefaced by saying this video was put together by a filmmaker who is devoted to clearing Joe Paterno's name in the Sandusky affair, not exactly a cause for the ages. Still, Ziegler makes some strong points and calls out Rolfing's shift from his original call to supporting the drop location even as Johnny and Peter Jacobsen are so clearly not buying the assertion.
**Joseph LeClair Tweeted a telling photo showing the ball flight that would be necessary to make the drop work.