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The Tiger Drop Controversy

April 13, 2013 - Al Stephenson
Tiger Woods played in the third round of the Masters at Augusta National today. The question every one seemed to be asking was should he have? Let's review the facts.

Woods suffered a bad break on the 15th hole in Friday's second round when his third shot hit the pin and caromed back into the water. He was now faced with a decision. He could play from the drop area, as far back from where the ball entered the hazard as he saw fit or choose to replay from where he hit his last shot. That is what he decided to do and the rule says he must drop his ball as near as possible to the previous spot. That, it turns out became the issue.

Tiger dropped some two yards behind the divot from his previous shot. A TV viewer called in (yeah, I don't know how you go about that either) and suggested to the rules committee that the drop was not in accordance with the rules. The committee checked the video and decided that the drop was legal. Tiger thus signed his scorecard and went to be interviewed. It was there that he admitted that he dropped two yards from his previous lie, seemingly unaware that that would constitute a violation.

The committee, after hearing his comments, went back and reviewed the incident again. This time they decided that it was an improper drop. After meeting with Tiger this morning, they decided that a two stroke penalty was in order. That was assessed under a rule that is only two years old. The new rule 33-7, was instituted to prevent players from being disqualified by signing a scorecard that was incorrect because of a penalty they were unaware of.

So what is the controversy? Well the old guard of players think that Tiger should have disqualified himself for signing the incorrect scorecard. He easily could have done that and would have added to his group of admirers if he had done so. However, the new rule, which was added for just such instances might as well be thrown out.

The conspiracy theorists would suggest that the ruling was made because it was Tiger Woods. The stars always get special treatment. Anyone else would have been sent packing. I don't think so. I honestly believe any other golfer in the field would have been given the same deal - that is afer all, the spirit of the new rule.

The view from my seat suggests that you can question the committee's initial ruling on the drop, and you can question Tiger's motive in dropping it where he did (I can't get into his head, but I don't think he gained an advantage by hitting a shot that was two yards longer), or the validity of the new rule, but I'm thinking the committee ultimately got it right.

The gaffe called for a two shot penalty, not disqualification.


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