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CSI: Tigerdrop Sawgrass '13 Winners!

Cork Gaines wins for the best forensic of Tiger's tee shot, noting the angle of splash and how it doesn't match the hard hook angle that would be necessary for the drop spot to have worked.

And there should be some sort of award for use of Photoshop.

And this "angle of view" importance breakdown is also quite impressive:

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Reader Comments (53)

OH, Wow. The Publisher should be fired for this waste of time.
05.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterFreud
Reality: if you did this with every drop like this (last crossed the hazard at a reasonably far distance) nearly all of them would be wrong to greater and lesser degrees. But that's not the way the rules are written. The rule is players, caddies consult and come to their best determination. That was done here. Drop was correct under the rules. Time to move on.
05.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterElf
Probably been said before: TV is most inaccurate when judging long shots.
Does the 17th at Sawgrass look 130 yards? No.
When a player hits a ball and the camera is behind does the ball flight look like a push? Yes.
Could 4 professionals on the ground judge the situation better than a million people watching TV? Yes.
Elf is right.
As far as I am concerned, that top-down view - the lower right image - is indicting for Casey Wittenberg. We are supposed to believe that he has a superhuman ability to eyeball the path in real time as the path moves right to left along a hazard line that runs right to left and to know precisely where these two converging lines intersect with a high degree of confidence?

Nobody has that ability. Sorry Wittenberg, but you were fibbing in terms of being sure about where the ball crossed. But Tiger was caught in an outright lie with respect to the marshals on Saturday, so you're hardly the first mess with truth Casey.

I can't see the veterans being thrilled about this. The locker room might be a tricky place for Wittenberg to hang out - it is generally a very gossipy place full of jealousies without red meat rules shenanigans thrown into the mix.
05.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterD Jacobsen
@Elf - things don't move on in golf. When rules are questioned, the issues never really go away.

Wishing that everyone would just move on is a bit like chasing windmills in golf. This will be discussed on and off for years and will be referred to again when similar situations occur or when a high profile player brings it up - ie, i think there is probably a pretty good chance that Norman will talk about it, then it will be talked about here again.

This is a sport where we are still talking about rules issues from the Masters in the 1950s.

It is hard to say this softly, but if you think that golf addicts move on, you don't understand golf. Constantly digging up issues from the past is at the soul of this "game." Blogs, clubhouses, men's grills, waiting on tee boxes are all opportunities to rehash things.
05.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRaz
The spin rate of a ball starts slowing right after impact. Most of the curve in a shot occurs when side spin begins to overwhelm the initial momentum of the ball. This happens relatively early in the shot. But balls then loose enough spin that the later part of the flight is relatively straight.

Also, when we hit a shot from the tee and it hooks or slices, the perspective that we have accentuates the effect. However, when looking at it from a bird's eye view, it is surprising how little curve there actually is. From that view, they look more like slight bends even though from the tee it looks like a dramatic hook or slice.

Also, the higher a shot is, the harder it is to get lateral motion on it.

Tiger's ball was probably a lot straighter along the line of stakes that people think that it might have been.
05.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGHC
To back up my point about curvature in ball flight, look at the bird's eye view of Bubba's Masters shot. Even that one was almost straight for the last 1/3 of its flight:


And here:
05.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGHC
People will be talking about this drop for a long time, kind of like Gary's found ball at Lytham.
The lower graphic is really fantastic as it illustrates in a few pictures why so many people are fooled into being convinced that Tigers drop had to be wrong
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRyan
CW in his interview with Golf Channel yesterday claimed the ball crossed by the corner of the bunker which is probably a good call. The ball would have been travelling straight at that point, almost parallel to the hazard line.

Given the flight characteristics of this shot, it would be very difficult, if not nigh on impossible, for any player or caddy to get the crossing point exactly right as viewed from the tee over 200 yards away. This would have been made even more difficult as the ball would have been dropping from a max height of over 40 yards. I have no doubt that CW made a good call given the circumstances even though analysts might show that the drop was made several yards from where the ball crossed the hazard line. Tour players will make their best estimate of the drop point which is deemed good enough under the rules. This wasn't a 'bad drop' as so many observers have concluded, exactitude is not required here. On the contrary, given the difficulties in assessing it, I would say CW did a pretty good job.

No matter what information comes to light on this, I expect the naysayers and Tiger detractors will remain convinced in their opinions that the ball never travelled over land and the that it started left off the tee and hooked left almost immediately over the water. Even if they do come to realise they were wrong about that I very much doubt that they will admit it.

Looking again at the TV coverage, and other information now available, the ball must have hooked at least 15 yards to the right earlier on in its flight before curving back and straightening towards the end of its flight. It is becoming increasingly clear to me that the flight path would have taken the ball over the water in front of the ladies tee, after which time it would have travelled above dry land until it reached the edge of the bunker. This image taken from the tee gives a great perspective of the hole Note Tiger's divot on left.

An interesting debate, let's hope that Tiger and his partner's judgement will now be vindicated rather than continue to be vilified.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDevildad
OK Geoff - what is your point? Are you saying that Tiger cheated? That Casey lied and is a cheater? That the Tour needs replay ability for all shots in case there is a question? What was Tiger supposed to do? Who would you have him consult with for the drop other than CW?
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHBL
Is this the fate of tour golf? I got a bad feeling about all this.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterClaude
Ball flight at impact is perpendicular to the face angle. This has been shown through extensive testing. That direction will dominate the early part of the ball flight. For low angle shots like this one it will carry in that path for roughly half the distance before the side spin of the ball dominates the final direction of the ball.

We've all hit Hooks or Slices that appear to start down the middle of the fairway and you think ... maybe... only to see it trail off left or right and we know as we've seen a hundred times before and I tend to do the same thing Tiger did... turn away in disgust because I know I am dropping, re-teeing or ball hunting.

Now we've all also hit shots that start immediately right (or left) and keep on going. That takes either an extremely open or closed face... and had Tiger hit that kind of shot he'd not even have tracked the ball at all as it would have started over the water initially.

However when you watch the replay it is typical of a shot you think has a chance only to see it start to hook and turn away in disgust.

A bit more of the view angle fun with a more accurate blimp view angle. It doesn't take all that much of a hook to get a ball flight that fits all the criteria with the given evidence... and less than 10 degrees in view angle change from direct top down and the ball can appear to fly entirely over water.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterShane Morris
Angle of splash and blood splatter pattern do not lie on CSI.

And that lower "angle of view" panel is impressive. Is there a detailed "Materials and Methods" section we can read to evaluate it? In God we trust. All other have to show their work.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
I think it bears mentioning that this isn't going away in part b/c of the Master's drop fiasco. I also think back to the FBR when Tiger moved the "moveable obstruction" that weight as much as my car. Clearly that was treated by pundits and media as "cute" and "clever." I think it is worth revisiting that moment in the light of these recently scrutinized drops. I submit that it sheds some light on the mindset. I think the honeymoon is over.

Much was said after the Masters that Tiger missed an oportunity to rehab an image; to be a sportsman; to add to the game's integrity and his respect based on how he handled that drop. The current lack of trust, is the result of his missed opportunity.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterForeright!
@raz really? If you are a real golf fan? Do we need to take it out and measure? :). Are we still talking about DJ's drop in New Orleans? You ask your playing competitors, you determine a spot. Sometimes it's right, sometimes not - but either way it's a good drop. And, according to CW, Tiger asked him if he needed to drop at ladies tee, Casey said no. Not sure what more you really want, or that can be done
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterElf
MOving that rock was one of the biggest act of cheating I have witnessed. If it smells like sh-t it probably is.

Way worse than building a stance with a towel.
The rules are the rules. You've all used them to your advantage when possible. The fact is, the next swing Tiger made would have been impossible for 75% of the players out there. He had no advantage by dropping there but that's where he chose to drop. He would have just as easily double bogeyed had he re-teed or dropped at the front of the tee box so the effect is moot.

This is a non-story and armchair investigators need to get jobs.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChris from DE
"And that lower "angle of view" panel is impressive. Is there a detailed "Materials and Methods" section we can read to evaluate it? In God we trust. All other have to show their work."

There wasn't much methodolgy there.

I took an overhead view of the course and mapped it out in AutoCAD. Then gave it some depth to give some weight to the colors.

Then I created a spline using the approximate distance of 230 yards for the shot. I initially used a shot height of 20 yards but later revised it to a more accurate 30 yards. The shot shape was initially done in 2D then I added the 3rd dimension hook of about 20 to 25 yards.

After which I took the shot shape spline and placed the finish end nearest the point I could approximate as the landing point.

Next I rotated the start point to the tee box nearest where I could figure that Tiger had it on his Tee.

The rest is just a matter rotating to different angles.

The point of the process wasn't to recreate the shot exactly because that would be impossible. It was meant to illustrated the perception tricks that can be played with the eye from such elevated views. We know it was a hook shot. Anyone who was there has said it was a hook shot. Even the most mildest of hooks makes it so that shot had to travel over land near where Tiger dropped.

We're not talking about a draw which would have been 10 or 15 yards of right to left. We are talking a hook of at least 20 yards and by the on hand accounts it sounds to be more along the order of 30+ yards of hook which further damages the claim that it was an improper drop.

Furthermore Casey is pretty damn certain that it was a proper drop. Tiger asked if he should drop back by the Tee Boxes and Casey said Oh no... move up to the sand trap and that's what he did.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterShane Morris
Chris from DE - of the six other players that hit the water during the week (who all went back to the tee BTW) 2 had double bogey, three had triple bogey and one had quadruple bogey.

It is not moot. And it may be helpful to not confuse your assumptions with facts.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTiger Hater
Yes because how other players hit shots impacts how Tiger should approach his drop.

Do they have an app for that? Is that the Caddy or the Rules official that has to take care of that?

The App says everyone else dropped here so you better drop here to avoid conspiracy theorists from tarnishing your reputation.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterShane Morris
Summary, three days later and still all the camera footage and impressive illustrations DOES NOT MAKE IT CONCLUSIVE.

Neither does Casey Wittenberg and his apparent Six Million Dollar Man bionic vision.

Just like Gary player at Lytham in 1974, Tiger's drop will also be reference 39 years from now!!!

Wittenberg should not have walked forward before settling the issue.

Woods should have been clear that he did not look at the most of the ball flight.

Wittenberg should have than asked Lacava what he saw. Then he should have asked his caddie. Then he should have come to a conclusion before walking foward. The second he walked forward, he was comprimising his abilty to be objective. And, he does give the impression that he is someone who is awed by playing with Tiger Woods, not as someone who wants to bash his head in competively.

Anyways, I look forward to the next 29 years! And to see if Wittenberg ever acheives something in golf that will keep this from being his defining moment in the national spotlight! It will be interesting.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Foster
Thanks, Shane. Good work. But the first "excited utterance" from Rolfing made no mention of a "hook," and he would know. He said something about "left, fat, popup" IIRC, but I certainly could be wrong about that. Anyway, how do you explain the splash pattern? Looks to me like it is parallel to the shore and not more orthogonal to it, which is what you would most likely expect for a hard hook that was making a left turn over the red line (most likely; I haven't done the experiment but we could ask Elisabeth Shue). And one other thing. If Tiger had hit the hard draw he apparently intended, wouldn't he have watched the ball until it came down, even if he knew he started it a bit too far left, in the expectation and hope that it would stay on dry land? Which brings up another (rhetorical) question for this feeble golfer: Even if you are Tiger, why would you hit a hard draw toward the water?
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
I think he hit a hard draw on 18, toward the water. Which was why he was so pumped as he had screwed it up on 14.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn R
What am I missing? He's saying that if you draw a line between the two splashes, that line is parallel to the hazard line. But it's not. I'm not sure how someone could draw a line between the two points of impact with the water and claim that line is parallel to the hazard line, unless that person has no idea what parallel means. A ray drawn from the second splash that crosses over the first splash would intersect the hazard line toward the point at the top left of the picture where the shore enters the image. That makes Tiger's drop look entirely plausible to me.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSeitz
How many high ballooning fat shots have you seen hooking hard in your life?
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRob
If he was as "sure" as he now proclaims, Casey would have needed to be able to assess the exact distance of the ball at all points in its flight to know where is stood relative to the red stakes below. And, he would have need to make this split second assement from 200 years away! No person can do that with convincing accuracy.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrookline
" Anyway, how do you explain the splash pattern? "

I don't ... I don't pretend to know how a ball reacts when impacting water. I don't pretend to know that both those white dots are splashes... or that they are created entirely by the ball....

What I do know is that the announcer stated that Tiger hit it fat... high ballooning left looks like it might be in the water and then when it did splash down an exasperated ... oh no it is in the water... as if there was some thought it might not be in the water. Which can be taken as he hit it straight and it might carry or he hit a hook and it might hold on.

Tiger knows his swing and shot shape better than anyone and knew once it started hooking it was over and didn't really care to know where it landed because he was dropping. He then asked if he should drop back by the tees and was told emphatically no you are up by the sand... he further had it clarified as beyond the red stake... he dropped... everyone was fine with... other than those watching on TV... which is shown to be less than reliable as evidence...

So yeah it really is over...
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterShane Morris
"How many high ballooning fat shots have you seen hooking hard in your life?"

It's not like its a ballooning wedge shot... It traveled 230ish yards...

I've hit plenty of those kind of shots... that start out fairly okay initially then mid way through balloon, especially when windy, and hook/slice hard. It is really not that hard to replicate that kind of shot actually.

It's not a popup that only went 150 or less people.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterShane Morris
@Shane - it was espicially windy? How windy was it at Sawgrass on Sunday?
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKarma Monster
I love how people are contorting the Tiger tee shot to make a case that it travelled over land for that long while skirting the stakes and then ended up 20 feet into the pond.

The "Hand of God" goal counted. But it was, and still is, scandalous.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDiego Maradona
The sad thing about all of this is how people are damning Casey Wittenberg by contending/impyling either (a) that he out and out lied or (b) that he has no balls and is Tiger's b--ch. Both seem unfair to me, given that there is no prior evidence of either. This is not Notah Begay out there giving Tiger the drop....
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSari
I will go with option (b) that he has no balls. Casey does seem to be a little in awe and out of his element next to Tiger. He certainly is not an imposing competitve threat or hardcore opponent for Woods.

It is sad, but I truly think Casey lacked the balls in this situation.

But the victory counts and "technically" no rules were broken.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJatinder
@Sari, yeah this is really very little about Tiger's integrity and much more about Casey's (as much as people are trying to twist it). In order to say Tiger drop was bad (and allege motive, cheating, rule bending etc), Wittenberg has to be lying. If he really believes what he says, than the drop was correct, and not dodgy, even if spot is wrong.

This is especially true since according to Wittenberg and Rolfing Tiger asked Wittenberg if he should drop at ladies tees, and about the hazard stake, and Wittenberg said no.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
Sari-- Notah reference....Good One!


I know what Rolfing said upon the ball leaving the club, and I know that TW turned around and did not watch. I don't know anything about Casey W or the rest of it.

I have an opinion as to where the ball should have been dropped, but I will refrain from participating in this endless discussion, and that includes reading any more of it.

Carry on, yall.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
@Rob - "How many high ballooning fat shots have you seen hooking hard in your life?"

Quite a few of my own, actually, that's what happens when you catch it slightly high towards the toe. And I did see one last Sunday at The Players' by Tiger on the 14th hole - relatively speaking, that is. Remember, his standards are somewhat different from ours - two grooves too high on the clubface is "fat", and a trajectory that's five yards higher than expected is "ballooned". We're talking about a 3-wood that carries 230 here, not a pop-up that leaves a tee stripe on the crown of the clubhead.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
What TW had left (at least in my eyes, not being in Camp Sari-Elf) after his despicable private life fiasco was integrity on the golf course. The Masters and Players drops are now eating away at that. I can understand why Team TW are covering their ears and asking us to please, please, please make the bad man stop talking about this.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGinGHIN
Hawkeye - you can't have it both ways - ballooning plus hooking when hit from a flat lie. You need back spin to get the ball to baloon. You can have two different types of spin on the same ball. There is not enough side rotation on a balloon shot to create a dramatic hook necessary for Tiger's ball to cover than much land and then dive extremely to the left to end up that far out in the pond.

The one way to acheive this is to launch a ball from an uphill slope - there is no need for much backsping to give it height. Thus, there is the possibilty of sidespin to hook a ball in this instance. But, Tiger was not hitting from an uphill lie.

The other way to acheive this is to use a damaged golf ball that is out of round or is missing a chuck that presents a slight posibility that the rotational axis will change in flight. How do we know that the rotational axis doesn't change in flight? Because we never see golf balls changing trajectory.

Bottom line is that you can't get a ball hit from a flat lie to significanly baloon and hook in the absence of very windy conditions. Not possible with earth-bound physics. You, me, and Tiger are all stuck with these limitations.

Now the Tiger fans are challenging Newtonian physics in order to exonerate their boy. Priceless.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRob
Guys, the drop was perfectly good and legal until you have proof to show otherwise. Comments from TV commentators, assumptions that Tiger turned away immediately (rather that after 4 seconds into an 8 second flight which is fact), impressions that the ball travelled all the way over water do not constitute fact or proof.

When you have definitive proof that the drop was outside the intent of the rules then by all means let us all know. Until then please respect the integrity and honesty of the players and their caddies.

Shane (Morris), do you have a twitter account, I would like to get in touch with you, thanks.
05.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDevildad

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