2013 Masters: How did Woods avoid disqualification?

Woods avoids DQ but handed controversial two-stroke penalty.

Tiger Woods drop

I wrote yesterday that speculation was mounting that Tiger Woods faced disqualification from The Masters after appearing to breach the rules of golf when he was forced to drop after his ball found the water hazard.

In short, Woods faced three options after his ball bounced off the flagstick and into the water hazard at the par-5 15th hole, and he chose the option to drop the ball, under the penalty of one-stroke back where he made his previous shot.

Rule 26 states you must drop the ball “as nearly as possible” to where the previous shot was played but Woods himself admitted; ‘I went two yards further back. I tried to take two yards off the shot of what I felt I hit (previously)”.
It all pointed to a disqualification as “two yards further back” isn’t “as nearly as possible”.

So what happened this morning to see Tiger Woods still playing in the Masters and handed a two-stroke penalty?

Well it seems Woods escaped a bigger penalty because he didn’t realise he had done anything wrong and the Masters rules committee decided to invoke Rule 33-7 and waive the disqualification because of it.

It has been reported that the dodgy drop wasn’t brought up with Woods by the rules committee as he signed his card yesterday and only after Woods admitted to dropping a little further back in a post-round interview did the committee decided to have a look at it.

It seems that the rules committee deemed it ok on Friday, and after deliberating this morning it seems they did not find it ok today. If it was deemed illegal before Woods signed his card yesterday, then it would have been a two-stroke penalty. Any time afterwards and it’s an automatic DQ.

It seems the rules committee were at fault here. The drop was indeed illegal but they told Woods that it was ok. To DQ him this morning would have been very unfair on Woods.

Some have suggested that it was Woods’ status that enabled him to escape disqualification. Others have suggested that woods should disqualify himself from the tournament, a little like Greg Norman did a day after  realising he breached the rule with an illegal drop at the 1990 Palm Meadows Cup.

Norman has been vocal on Twitter that Woods should disqualify himself:

It is all about the player and the integrity of the game. Woods violated the rules as he played #1 carries a greater burden. WD for the game
— Greg Norman (@SharkGregNorman) April 13, 2013

But I think Woods can justifiably cop the two-stroke penalty and take his place in the field. If the rules committee were competent they would have given him the same penalty as he signed for his card on Friday.