The Golf Blog: Will Tiger Woods be DQ’d for alleged improper drop on 15th hole at Masters?

mulligan, 12 April 2013, Comments Off on The Golf Blog: Will Tiger Woods be DQ’d for alleged improper drop on 15th hole at Masters?
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The Golf Blog says: We were just about ready to put things to bed, but then our Twitter exploded with a new controversy. Tiger Woods may have taken an improper drop after his ball ricocheted off the flag into the water on 15. During his interview after the round, Tiger said he dropped the ball 2 yards back from the original spot. “Well, I went down to the drop area, that wasn’t going to be a good spot, because obviously it’s into the grain, it’s really grainy there. And it was a little bit wet. So it was muddy and not a good spot to drop. So I went back to where I played it from, but I went two yards further back and I took, tried to take two yards off the shot of what I felt I hit. And that should land me short of the flag and not have it either hit the flag or skip over the back. I felt that that was going to be the right decision to take off four right there. And I did. It worked out perfectly.”

Screen Shot 2013-04-13 at 7.43.37 AMPhoto of Tiger Woods’ ball drop he said was 2 yards behind spot of 1st shot (circled in red)

Pro golfers Bob Estes and Keith Nolan are suggesting on Twitter the drop was improper.

Rule 26-1 is the relevant rule:

26-1. Relief For Ball In Water Hazard
It is a question of fact whether a ball that has not been found after having been struck toward a water hazard is in the hazard. In the absence of knowledge or virtual certainty that a ball struck toward a water hazard, but not found, is in the hazard, the player must proceed under Rule 27-1.

If a ball is found in a water hazard or if it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found is in the water hazard (whether the ball lies in water or not), the player may under penalty of one stroke:

a. Proceed under the stroke and distance provision of Rule 27-1 by playing a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5); or

b. Drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped; or ***

So what did Tiger do wrong?

Tiger didn’t elect option (a) because he dropped the ball a couple yards behind his divot, so it wouldn’t be “as nearly as possible at the spot” of the original shot.

Tiger may have thought he was complying with option (b), but it appears that he may have been mistaken about the last line the ball crossed the water hazard. As John Lynch’s Dad blog explained, the point at which Tiger’s ball last crossed the water hazard may have been different from the line that it took when it first sailed over the water hazard onto the green. It last crossed the water hazard on the ricochet–which may have been a different line than the first. Here’s the video. The ball clearly bounces to the left of the original line of the shot. If it was a different line, then it does seem highly doubtful that Tiger could just go back 2 yards simply from his divot under Rule 26-1. The drop wouldn’t be on the last line the ball entered the hazard after the ricochet off the flag. Click here for the USGA’s explanation of “last crossed,” which explains how to determine the last line the ball crossed the water hazard if it did so several times. And here for more explanation.

Screen Shot 2013-04-13 at 8.05.09 AMRough estimate of line in which Tiger’s ball last crossed water hazard after ricochet

If it was an improper drop, as it appears it was, Tiger would be disqualified for signing an improper or erroneous scorecard (he should have assessed himself a penalty for the improper drop). We think the issue will be raised Saturday morning, given how Twitter is exploding with it. We hope, and pray, no rules infractions were committed–but, by all indications, it looks like Tiger did. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Hank Haney said on Twitter he thinks Tiger Woods may have committed a rules infraction.

UPDATE: Tiger Woods escaped disqualification by a controversial ruling excusing him and imposing only a 2 shot penalty. Click here.


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