This past spring, the world's greatest golfers came together at the beautiful Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, for the 2013 Masters Tournament. It was an exciting week-end--but then, I'm a fan. [paragraph] When it was over, Adam Scott won the tournament. It was the first time an Australian had won the Masters. But afterward, it wasn't Scott that most of the media and fans were focused on. It was Tiger Woods. [paragraph] To quickly summarize what happened, Woods hit the pin on the 15th hole during his second round, sending his ball into a water hazard. He dropped another ball and continued his round. Before the days of high-definition television (HDTV), that would have been the end of the story. But as they say, the better your oversight, the more broken rules you will uncover. IR In his defense, I thought Tiger Woods' interpretation of the rule was right. I understood the rule to mean that as long as you were on the same line to the hole and behind your previous shot, you were free to drop your ball and it would be a legal drop. [paragraph] Woods thought the same thing and said as much to ESPN's Tom Rinaldi in his post-round Friday interview. He admitted that he had dropped his ball a couple of yards back to play a slightly different shot.
But as Sports Illustrated Senior Writer Michael Bamberger pointed out in a story that appeared on Golf.com, that's not what rule 26-1-a actually says: "The Rules of Golf are necessarily severe in their exactitude," Bamberger wrote. "A player, when competing under rule 26-1-a, as Woods was, is required to drop 'as nearly as possible' to the ball's previous position. Some say the language is imprecise, but another view is that the language could not be more precise. It is worded that way because a golfer might not know the exact location from which he played his previous shot."
It was David Eger, a Champions Tour golfer and former tournament director, who noticed the violation while he was sitting at home, watching the tournament on television. The giveaway? He could see Woods' previous divot and knew he had not dropped the ball close to the previous position.
Just one casual observer came within a short putt of getting Tiger Woods disqualified from the tournament. Tournament rules say that if Eger had pointed out the mistake before Woods admitted it--which he did in his interview with Rinaldi (albeit unknowingly)--he would not have been allowed to play the next round.
Now everyone is a judge...