The 2013 Masters is underway at Augusta National Golf Club, located in Augusta, Georgia. It is one of the PGA’s four Major Championships, and is as historic a tournament as the world of golf has to offer. This year all eyes are firmly on Tiger Woods, who looks to have bounced back from his mediocre play of the last couple of years. After two rounds, Tiger is within striking distance, but may find himself disqualified after a fateful string of bad luck on the 15th hole.
As of Friday night, the competition committee is rumored to be looking at the chain of events that led to Tiger suffering his first bogey of the day.
Woods entered the tee box at 15 at 5-under and tied for the lead. He played the hole beautifully, laying up his second shot to around 87 yards. He hit a perfect shot onto the green with a 60-degree wedge, a shot that turned out to be a little too perfect. The ball struck the flag pin and bounced back and into the water hazard. The hazard at 15 is a Red Lateral Hazard, which falls under 26-1c of the 2013-1015 USGA Rules and Decisions.
Tiger had several options for continuing play once his ball got wet. He could play the ball from the hazard, replay the shot from the original position incurring a one-point penalty, or he could take straight line from the hole to where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard and take a drop anywhere behind that point, keeping within that line and incurring a one-point penalty.
In reading the rules it appears that there is a fourth option involving taking a drop on either side of the hazard, taking a drop within two club-lengths of where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard, but there is some confusion as to whether this would be in play at a Red Lateral, or not.
Most of the pundits have only offered the first three options, and of those three, Tiger elected to take a drop from the original position where he hit a fantastic shot, landing it on the green where he putted in for bogey.
The problem comes with where Tiger took his drop. After the round, Tiger replayed the hole for the media and said he had dropped the ball about two yards back of his original position. Watching the shot again, it is clear to see the divot from his first shot right around two yards ahead, just as Tiger said.
By rule, Tiger was supposed to drop the ball as close as possible to the original position. Playing it from two yards back would mean Tiger violated rule 20-7, which deals with playing a ball from the wrong place. If the competition committee decides
Tiger violated this rule; he would be subject to the penalty from 20-7c: If a competitor makes a stroke from the wrong place, he incurs a penalty of two strokes under the applicable Rule…
Tiger signed a card that showed six strokes on 15, but with a two-stroke penalty, Woods should have shown 8 strokes, which would have given him a 73, instead of the 71 he attested t0.
Rule 6-6d states: The competitor is responsible for the correctness of the score recorded for each hole on his card. If he returns a score for any hole lower that actually taken, he is disqualified. If he returns a score for any hole higher than actually taken, the as returned stands.
If the competition committee chooses to see Tiger’s drop as a violation of the rules, we could see him disqualified before Bubba Watson starts out the play on Saturday morning.