By Ann Liguori
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On an absolute beautiful day at Augusta National, a controversy involving the top-ranked player in the world turned what should have been a calm, lovely morning into an ugly one and took attention away from third round play.
The ruling on Tiger rocked the media room at Augusta National and tremors were felt around the globe as various TV commentators and former players called for Tiger to disqualify himself.
Fred Ridley, the Chairman of the Competition Committee, said that disqualifying Tiger was never on the table.
He released the following statement on Saturday morning:
Yesterday afternoon (Friday’s Round 2), the Rules Committee was made aware of a possible Rules violation that involved a drop by Tiger Woods on the 15th hole.
In preparation for his fifth shot, the player dropped his ball in close proximity to where he had played his third shot in apparent conformance with Rule 26. After being prompted by a television viewer, the Rules Committee reviewed a video of the shot while he was playing the 18th hole. At that moment and based on that evidence, the Committee determined he had complied with the Rules.
After he signed his scorecard, and in a television interview subsequent to the round, the player stated that he played further from the point than where he had played his third shot. Such action would constitute playing from the wrong place.
The subsequent information provided by the player’s interview after he had completed play 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. The penalty of disqualification was waived by the Committee under Rule 33 as the Committee had previously reviewed the information and made it initial determination prior to the finish of the player’s round.”
After Friday’s round, Tiger told ESPN: “I went down to the drop area, that wasn’t going to be a good spot, because obviously it’s into the grain 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 tried to take two yards off the shot of what I felt I hit…”
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During a press conference later on Saturday morning, Ridley was asked if there is concern that the perception is going to be that (Augusta National) is treating Tiger differently or with special treatment.
Ridley answered, “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 where ever, he would have gotten the same ruling, because again, it is the right ruling under these circumstances.”
Ridley also said that they advised golf’s governing bodies and the Tours of their decision and that “these groups have concurred with their decision.”
I don’t believe Tiger should have disqualified himself. I do feel that tournament officials, as soon as they knew there may have been an issue with where Tiger dropped the ball on 15, should have spoken to Tiger before he signed his score card. But as their press release stated, “at that moment and based on the evidence, the Committee determined he had complied with the Rules.”
After meeting with Tiger on Saturday morning and reviewing the video, Ridley thought Tiger was forthright in his comments and intentions.
The two-shot penalty was assessed. New rule 33.7 (a penalty of disqualification may in exceptional individual cases be waived, modified or impose if the Committee considers such action warranted) saved Tiger.
The tournament officials came to a decision and stuck with it. They’ve moved on. And I think we all should too.
Do you think it is fair that Augusta National only reviewed the play after a TV viewer called in? Share your thoughts below.