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Could Tiger Woods Be Disqualified From The Masters?

12:18 AM, Apr 13, 2013   |    comments
Tiger Woods takes a drop at the 15th hole during the second round at the Masters. (USA TODAY Sports)
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(WUSA) - On a day where 14 year-old Tianlang Guan managed to make the cut despite being penalized for slow play, 53 year-old Fred Couples play his way into contention 21 years after he won at Augusta, and Tiger Woods hit one of the most unlucky shots ever, it's what could happen Saturday that might steal the show.

Tiger Woods is facing a potential disqualification from a Masters tournament that he entered as the favorite to win.

"What?" you're probably asking yourself. "How is that possible?"

It turns out that unlucky break at the 15th hole may have been worse than anybody could imagine.

Let's rewind back to Tiger's play at the 15th. On Woods' approach shot into the green, he appeared to have hit a brilliant approach that would have set himself up for a birdie attempt... if only he hadn't hit the pin. The ball did hit the pin and rolled away from the hole into the hazard.

Now for the casual viewer, you've seen a ball go into the water, you've seen golfers take a drop and go on their way. But there are very strict rules in gold (which makes me think of that one scene in Goldfinger where James Bond insists that he and Auric Goldfinger play the strict rules of golf).

So, what are the rules for relief when a ball lands in a water hazard?

Rule as per USGA.org

26-1. Relief For Ball In Water Hazard

If a ball is found in a water hazard or if it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found is in the water hazard (whether the ball lies in water or not), the player may under penalty of one stroke:

a. Proceed under the stroke and distance provision of Rule 27-1 by playing a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5); or

b. Drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped; or

c. As additional options available only if the ball last crossed the margin of a lateral water hazard, drop a ball outside the water hazard within two club-lengths of and not nearer the hole than (i) the point where the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard or (ii) a point on the opposite margin of the water hazard equidistant from the hole.

When proceeding under this Rule, the player may lift and clean his ball or substitute a ball.

PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE:

Match play - Loss of hole; Stroke play - Two strokes.

After Tiger's round, he told ESPN's Tom Rinaldi that he hit his 5th shot 2 yards farther back from where he hit his original shot. 

It would seem he combined two options into one, which you can't do.

Either Woods could have hit from near where he hit his 3rd shot (much closer than 2 yards away), or he could have gone as far back from where the ball entered the hazard as long as the new position, where the ball last crossed the hazard, and the pin are all on the same line.

If officials rule that Tiger did neither, he would incur a two stroke penalty for a breach of the rule. That would change his score to a 73. Because Woods' scorecard says he shot a 71, he would have signed an incorrect scorecard which would result in a disqualification.

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