Woods: I played by the rules
Tiger Woods never contemplated withdrawing from the Masters amid controversy over a two-shot penalty for taking an incorrect drop during his second round.
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Woods was only given the penalty on Saturday morning, more than 12 hours after he had signed for a 71 that left him three shots off the lead.
That led three-time Masters champion Nick Faldo to call for Woods to gain "massive brownie points" by admitting he had broken the rules and disqualify himself, but it then emerged that tournament officials had reviewed the incident while Woods was playing the 18th hole yesterday and decided he had done nothing wrong.
And under a recently revised rule, the world number one could be given a two-shot penalty instead of being disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard.
"I got a text from Steiny (agent Mark Steinberg) this morning saying 'Call me,'. It's never a good thing when that happens," said Woods, who subsequently carded a third-round 70 to finish three under par.
"They called me in, I got a two-shot penalty, time to play. I made a mistake, I took an improper drop and I got the penalty."
Asked if he thought of withdrawing, Woods said: "No. Under the rules of golf I am abiding by the rules. They made the determination that nothing had happened yesterday and after what I said, things changed."
That was a reference to his comment that he had gone "two yards further back" from where he hit his original shot after seeing it clatter into the pin and bounce back into the water. Under rule 26-1a, he was obliged to drop "as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played."
Woods added: "I wasn't even really thinking. I was still a little ticked at what happened, and I was just trying to figure, okay, I need to take some yardage off this shot, and that's all I was thinking about was trying to make sure I took some yardage off of it, and evidently, it was pretty obvious, I didn't drop in the right spot."
Tournament officials insisted Woods had not received preferential treatment and the ruling was a "good decision" supported by the game's governing bodies.
However, Fred Ridley, chairman of the Competition Committees at Augusta National, admitted he wished he had told Woods his drop had been under scrutiny.
"I can't really control what the perception might or might not be," Ridley said. "All I can say is that unequivocally this tournament is about integrity.
"Our founder Bobby Jones was about integrity, and if this had been John Smith from wherever he would have gotten the same ruling, because again, it is the right ruling under these circumstances."
The review had been prompted by a call from a television viewer, but Woods was cleared and not informed of what had occurred.
"There's not a day that goes by that there are not some things I wish I would have done differently," Ridley added.
Ridley felt that "candid" comments from Woods indicated that he had "fully intended" to comply with rule 26-1a and that it would have been "grossly unfair" to disqualify him.
Until recently there would have been no debate, but under a revision to rule 33-7, the committee can waive disqualification if "satisfied that the competitor could not reasonably have known or discovered the facts resulting in his breach of the rules."
Rule 33-7 was revised in 2011, a few months after an incident which caused Ireland's Padraig Harrington to be disqualified after an opening 65 in Abu Dhabi.
Harrington had already signed his scorecard when a television viewer raised the issue of his ball moving as he marked it on a green and because of that, the punishment could not just be a two-stroke penalty.
The Royal and Ancient Club and the United States Golf Association announced in April 2011 a new interpretation to apply "in limited circumstances not previously contemplated" where disqualifications have been caused by scorecard errors identified as the result of recent advances in video technologies.
It covers the situation where a player is not aware he has breached a rule because of facts that he did not know and could not reasonably have discovered before returning his scorecard. Coincidentally, the new ruling was first applied in the Masters in 2011.
The two organisations did confirm that the disqualification penalty still applied for scorecard breaches that arise from ignorance of the rules of golf.
Asked about the Harrington incident, Ridley added: "That certainly is one good application of it. I don't think that's necessarily the overall intent. Let's face it, committees make mistakes from time to time, and players are entitled to rely on what a committee does.
"It shouldn't protect him (Woods) from not knowing the rules, but this is exactly the reason 33-7 exists. It is to protect the player when the committee takes some action, makes some decision.
"In this case it was a decision without further action, but nevertheless this was a committee decision, and it's intended to protect the player from that in the event the committee were to change its mind."