“At hole #15, I took a drop that I thought was correct and in accordance with the rules,” Woods wrote on Twitter Saturday morning. “I was unaware at that time I had violated any rules. …
“I was assessed a two-shot penalty. I understand and accept the penalty and respect the Committees’ decision.”
Masters officials issued a statement just before 10:30 a.m. Saturday, explaining that the situation “warranted further review and discussion with him this morning.”
“After meeting with the player, it was determined that he had violated Rule 26, and he was assessed a two-stroke penalty,” Fred Ridley, the chairman of Augusta National’s competition committee, said in the statement. “The penalty of disqualification was waived by the Committee under Rule 33 as the Committee had previously reviewed the information and made its initial determination prior to the finish of the player’s round.”
According to Rule 33-7 of the United States Golf Association’s “Rules of Golf,” “A penalty of disqualification may in exceptional individual cases be waived, modified or imposed if the Committee considers such action warranted.”
The exceptionally unusual situation — which had golf commentators, including three-time Masters champ Nick Faldo, calling for Woods to withdraw — results from Woods’s most disappointing moment in Friday’s second round, when he hit what appeared to be an excellent pitch shot into the 15th green. The ball, though, bounced off the flagstick and ricocheted back into the water that runs in front of the green.
At the time, it appeared only to be a bit of remarkable misfortune. But golf’s rules are nothing if not arcane, and each televised shot is monitored by millions of potential amateur referees. Not long after Woods spoke to reporters about the situation, television viewers began wondering about the propriety of what he had done.
Indeed, the two-shot penalty in this situation exists only because of television. Two years ago, the United States Golf Association altered its rules to allow players who learn of rules violations after signing their scorecards to continue play in competition, but be docked two shots. The change resulted from incidents of viewers noticing slight violations, some visible only because of high-definition, slow-motion replays, and calling tournament officials to report them.
After his ball entered the water at the 15th, Woods could have played his next shot from a designated “drop zone,” a circular area from which players who hit shots into the water may continue play. Woods, though, said in remarks that were later televised that the drop area was “a little bit wet, so it was muddy and not a good spot to drop.”