AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Having suffered a two-stroke penalty before his round, Tiger Woods is even par through the first 12 holes of Saturday's third round.
He remains 1 under for the tournament, and has neither gained nor lost any strokes off the lead, which also remains at 6 under.
Woods opened his third round with a birdie, but dropped a shot at the par-3 fourth. He birdied the seventh, bogeyed the ninth, bogeyed the 11th and has now bounced back with a birdie at the par-3 12th.
Watson shot a 2-under 70 Saturday at Augusta National. (How/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods wasn't the only one assessed with a penalty on Saturday.
Defending champion Bubba Watson hit his second shot into the water on the 11th hole en route to making double bogey on the par 4.
"Over-cut it, and I knew as soon as I hit it where it was going, it was going to go off those," said Watson, who shot 70 playing alongside longtime marker Jeff Knox in the first group off. "I even told my caddie, I said, 'Oh, that's in the water.' It was going to come off those slopes and go right in the water and that's what it did."
Because of the way it went into the water and with the pin so far back on the green, Watson called for a rules official to figure out where he should take a drop.
Watson took his drop 10 feet right of the drop area after asking where the ball had crossed.
The decision to call for an official, however, had nothing to do with Woods' penalty from the second round that was assessed on Saturday morning.
"I do it anyway," Watson said. "I don't know the rule book. Even if I'm on a cart path I make sure I get a rules official over there, just to make sure I don't do anything wrong."
While Watson didn't know all the particulars of the Woods penalty when he came off the course Saturday morning, he could certainly empathize with the former No. 1.
"I've had a phone call from the U.S. Open before," he said. "So I know what those phone calls feel like"
Watson was referencing the 2007 event at Oakmont, where he a shot off the lead entering the weekend when a fan called in what they thought was a rules violation.
"They said, 'Bubba, you said you double hit it on camera,'" Watson recalled. "And I said, 'No, I did not double hit it. I said I could have double hit it.' I said, 'You have to go back and listen to the tape.' I went right under it, and I made a triple bogey on the hole."
Four years later, Watson won the Farmers Insurance Open. The next day, a fan called in again.
"They tried to say that I did something wrong," Watson said. "But the rules official said, 'No, you didn't.'
"When you're in the high profile situations, you're having a chance to win the Masters, you're going to get cameras all over you. I think it's just one of those things. (Tiger) is a high profile player. It was one of those things where he took a drop that he felt was right. He wasn't trying to cheat anybody. He thought it was right. It's unfortunate for him that he got a two‑shot penalty. But fortunate for him that he's still playing."
Augusta National official Fred Ridley discusses the Tiger Woods ruling on Saturday (Cannon/Getty Images)
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Fred Ridley, the competition committee chairman for Augusta National, said Tiger Woods was never in danger of being disqualified Saturday morning while Masters officials deliberated on the appropriate response for Woods' rules violation on the 15th hole of Friday's second round.
"Disqualification this morning was not even on the table," Ridley said during a news conference Saturday afternoon while third round play was underway.
Ridley and other tournament officials met with Woods at 8 a.m. ET on Saturday morning after the issue developed concerning Woods' violation of Rule 26-1 when making an improper drop at the 15th hole. Because the competition committee had initially decided that Woods had not violated the rule -- and thus did not speak to Woods before he signed his scorecard -- they opted not to punish him for changing their minds.
"Our Committee had made a decision," Ridley said, "and that Tiger, although he didn't know that decision, he was entitled to have the benefit of that decision when he signed his scorecard.
"To me it would have been grossly unfair to Tiger to have disqualified him after our Committee had made that (initial) decision."
Officials used rule 33-7 to waive off disqualification and issue a two-stroke penalty to Woods. Ridley said the rule is "intended to protect the player ... in the event the committee were to change its mind." (Click here to read more about Woods' two-stroke penalty)
Tournament officials were informed of a potential rules violation by a fan watching on television and had looked at the video of Woods' drop at the 15th hole after his third shot had hit the flagstick and rolled into the water, but judged that Tiger had intended to comply with the rule. Only after being informed at 10 p.m. ET Friday of Woods' post-round comments about dropping his ball "two yards" behind the initial divot did officials reconsider their initial decision.
By then, Woods had long signed his scorecard for a 1-under 71. After speaking with Woods on Saturday morning, the committee decided to assess the two-stroke penalty, resulting in an adjusted score of 73 and a 36-hole total of 1 under.
Ridley took full responsibility for the decision not to meet with Woods before he signed his scorecard. Asked whether he now wishes he would have spoken to Tiger before he signed his scorecard, Ridley replied: "There's not a day that goes by that there are not some things I wish I would have done differently."
Ridley made several other points during his news conference Saturday:
> The competition committee noticed that Woods' caddie, Joe LaCava, never moved while Tiger investigated his options following his third shot, indicating that Tiger was intent on maintaining a similar spot as his original shot. "It was clear at that point that he was proceeding back to the place where he played his original ball," Ridley said. " ... I didn't see anything and he didn't tell me anything that would lead me to believe that he knowingly violated the rule."
> While deliberating their options, tournament officials contacted the PGA TOUR, the European Tour, the USGA and the PGA of America. "We've explained in just as much detail as you've heard and they are 100 percent behind the utilization of 33-7," Ridley said.
> Ridley confirmed that Augusta National would at least consider utilizing walking rules officials with every group for future Masters. "If there's one thing about the Masters tournament, whether it's whether or not we're going to have chicken sandwiches next year or whatever, we look at everything," Ridley said.
> Asked about perceptions that Woods was getting favorable treatment, Ridley replied: "I can't really control what the perception might or might not be. 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 wherever, that he would have gotten the same ruling, because again, it is the right ruling under these circumstances."
Woods drops his ball after hitting into the water on the 15th hole Friday. (Ehrmann/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods has been assessed a two-stroke penalty for taking an illegal drop on the 15th hole during the second round of the Masters, tournament officials announced Saturday.
His score on the par-5 goes from a bogey to a triple bogey, giving him a 73 for the second round and dropping him to 1 under for the tournament and five back of the lead.
Prior to the start of his third round, Woods tweeted, "At hole #15, I took a drop that I thought was correct and in accordance with the rules. I was unaware at that time I had violated any rules.
"I didn’t know I had taken an incorrect drop prior to signing my scorecard. Subsequently, I met with the Masters Committee Saturday morning and was advised they had reviewed the incident prior to the completion of my round.
"Their initial determination was that there was no violation, but they had additional concerns based on my post-round interview. After discussing the situation with them this morning, I was assessed a two-shot penalty. I understand and accept the penalty and respect the Committees’ decision."
The decision to assess the penalty -- rather than disqualify Woods for signing an incorrect scorecard -- comes after Rule 33-7/4.5 was changed in 2011 to read that if a player unknowingly signs for an incorrect score he will be assessed a penalty rather than be disqualified.
Fred Ridley, former president of the USGA and the chairman of the Masters competition committees, issued the following statement regarding the ruling:
“Yesterday afternoon, 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 its initial determination prior to the finish of the player’s round.”
Woods' third shot on the 15th had hit the pin and caromed back off the green and into the water. He chose to play his fifth shot two yards farther back from his original spot to ensure the ball landed short of the flag, he said.
After his round, Woods explained his decision, saying, "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."
Woods stuck his fifth shot to within a few feet and made the putt to salvage bogey, later saying, "It worked out perfectly."
But under Rule 26-1, Woods had three options for where to play his fifth shot from after hitting into the yellow-staked (not lateral) hazard:
• Play from the designated drop area, which he didn’t want to do because it was wet and he didn’t like the lie it would have given him.
• Drop the ball, keeping the point at which it last crossed the margin of the water between the hole and the spot which the ball would be dropped with no limit how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped. Had Woods chosen this option, however, he would have been well left of his position.
• Return to the original spot from which he played, and drop "as nearly as possible'' from where he played the third shot. As stated above, however, he did not do this, dropping two yards behind his original spot.
Officials -- specifically Ridley, Buzzy Johnson and Will Jones -- returned to Augusta National on Friday night at approximately 10 p.m. to review the situation before meeting with Woods at the course 8 a.m. Saturday.
"We went back to the tournament headquarters and reviewed the interview with ESPN," Ridley said (More Ridley: Tiger wasn't in danger of disqualification). "During that interview Tiger had indicated that he had taken a couple of extra yards, I think were his words. Based on that, it raised some concerns in our minds.
"Tiger was very forthright in his comments and his answers to questions that we had. Based on that and based on his very forthright and honest answers to the questions that I had, I told Tiger that in light of that information that we felt that he had, in fact, violated Rule 26 under the Rules of Golf and that he was going to have to be penalized. I also told him because we had initially made that determination the previous day after reviewing the ESPN video, not of his interview but of his round, that he, in fact, had not violated the rule and that we had elected to make that decision, had not spoken to him, that under Rule 33‑7 that there was ample reason not to impose the penalty of disqualification but to waive that penalty and impose a two‑shot penalty."
Woods' tee time and pairing for the third round will remain the same -- Woods will tee off at 1:45 p.m. ET with Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.
Earlier this year, Woods was penalized for taking an illegal drop in Abu Dhabi, where he missed the cut after being assessed a two-stroke penalty in the second round after he mistakenly thought he could take relief from an embedded lie.
The amendment to Rule 33-7/4.5 came after similar incidents in 2011 led to the disqualifications of Camilo Villegas in Hawaii and Padraig Harrington in Abu Dhabi.
"For some time we have been concerned that, in certain limited circumstances, disproportionate disqualification penalties have been required by the Rules," chief executive of the R&A Peter Dawson said at the time. "This carefully considered decision reflects our desire to ensure that the Rules of Golf remain fair and relevant in the changing environment in which the game is played today."
"This is a logical and important step in our re-evaluation of the impact of high-definition video on the game," added USGA executive director Mike Davis then. "We collectively believe that this revised decision addresses many video-related issues never contemplated by the Rules of Golf."
This is the second penalty assessed this week.
On Friday, 14-year-old Chinese amateur Guan Tianlang was given a one-stroke penalty for slow play after violating Rule 6-7. He was assessed the additional stroke en route to what otherwise would have been a par at the 17th hole.
The last player disqualified from the Masters was Larry Nelson in 1992. He shot 73 in the opening round but was disqualified for using non-conforming clubs -- his irons had decorative diamond shapes on the clubface that were found to be non-conforming by the USGA.
The last player to be disqualified here over a scorecard issue was Dick Mayer in 1967 after failing to sign his card following a 79 in the opening round.
The most significant snafu at Augusta National occurred in 1968 when Roberto De Vicenzo was forced to take a 4 on the 17th hole during the final round. He actually made a birdie 3, which would have gotten him into a playoff the next day with Bob Goalby but because DeVicenzo had signed for the higher score, mistakenly marked on his card by Tommy Aron, he was required to take it.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- As low as scores were in the opening round, the opposite has been true in Round 2. The Masters has been a bit formulaic that way in recent years with a benign setup on Thursday, a difficult one on Friday, somewhere in between on Saturday and back to a little more birdie-friendly on Sunday.
Only a smattering of players are under par so far and the lead, at least for now, remains at 6 under.
Will anyone be able to make a move this afternoon? Given the aforementioned formula and some difficult pin placements, it seems unlikely.
Here's a look at who to watch for this afternoon:
Marc Leishman, Jose Maria Olazabal, T.J. Vogel, 12:35 p.m.: No Aussie has ever won the Masters -- a fact Leishman is acutely aware of. If that's going to change, he'll need to continue roll the ball like he did on Thursday when he had just 25 putts. Picking the brain of 1999 winner Olazabal wouldn't be a bad idea, either.
Bubba Watson, Ian Poulter, Steven Fox, 1:30 p.m.: Only three players have successfully defended here and it looks like it will stay that way after Watson opened with a 75. He's going to have to work just to make the cut. Ditto Poulter, who despite feeling this is his best place to win a major, labored to a 76. The last defending champ to miss the cut, by the way, was Mike Weir in 2004.
Tiger Woods, Luke Donald, Scott Piercy, 1:41 p.m.: The second round historically has been pretty good to Woods, who has half dozen rounds in the 60s here on Fridays and nine rounds under par. He's only broken 70 once in the last seven years, however. Of course with scoring as difficult as it has been so far, anything under par should leave Woods in good position going into the weekend.
Rickie Fowler, Padraig Harrington, Jason Day, 1:52 p.m.: There was a lot to like about Fowler's opening 68 -- mostly that he had two double bogeys on the card and still shot 4 under. His aggressiveness could work against him, however, given the pin positions. Expect Day, who is 2 under, to stay in contention, too. His game fits this course well and two years ago he tied for second here.
Woods took 30 putts in his opening round Thursday at Augusta. (Ehrmann/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods' resumed his pursuit of a 15th career major championship Thursday.
But there's another number that's just as important to him at Augusta National. Three of the four times he's won here, Woods opened with a 70.
In the opening round of the 77th Masters, Woods shot 70.
"It's a good start," Woods said. "I hit the ball very solid today and lag putted pretty good today and I made a few here and there.
"Some years some guys shoot 65 starting out here. But right now I'm only four back and I'm right there."
The keyword in that sentence being "a few" -- on a windless day and soft golf course on which several players put up a low numbers, Woods wasn't one of them.
He at times look frustrated with his iron play and seemed to have difficult gauging the speed of the greens.
"I thought the greens were a little bit tough in the sense that they just didn't have the sheen to them," he said. "They didn't have the roll out. A couple of putts, we were talking about it in our group, that just weren't that fast."
But Woods also didn't shoot himself out of the tournament. He knows it can't be won on the first day, but it can be lost.
Woods made three birdies and just one bogey after, hitting nine fairways and 13 greens in regulation. He called it a "solid day," but also needed 30 putts, which is more than he's taken in some of his recent performances with three wins in his four stroke-play starts on the PGA TOUR this season.
The four-time Masters winner started out with five straight pars before birdies on the par-3 sixth and par-5 eighth. He added another on the par-5 13th.
But he also missed opportunities -- he three-putter the 14th for bogey and managed only par on the par-5 15th, where Woods missed the green after a massive drive and couldn't get up-and-down.
There were earlier misses, too. Woods failed to hit it close on the second or third holes despite having a wedge in his hands.
Woods came into the week playing as well as he has in years. He hasn't won here, however, since 2005.
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- In 18 previous Masters, Tiger Woods has broken 70 only once in the first round.
He's trending toward another round in the 60s, though, after making the turn in 2-under 34. Woods has hit 4 of 7 fairways and 5 of 9 greens in regulation while using 12 putts.
Woods' best opening round at Augusta National is the 68 he shot in 2010 on the way to a tie for fourth. The four-time Masters champ has yet to own the first-round lead, though, and his best opening round in that quartet of victories is 70.
Vonn is at Augusta National supporting her boyfriend Tiger Woods. (Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- As Tiger Woods made his way to the practice putting green next to the first tee, his girlfriend Lindsey Vonn walked by and headed down the fairway.
The Olympic skier, who has been rehabbing a torn ACL and MCL in her right knee, is wearing a brace on the leg, along with a tan sundress and matching hat.
Vonn and Woods announced last month that they are dating.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods tees off at 10:45 a.m. ET Thursday to start his quest of winning his first Masters since 2005. All eyes will be on his putting, which has been the key element to his three PGA TOUR wins this year. But make sure you keep tabs on how many greens in regulation Woods hits this week.
In each of his four Masters victories, Woods has always hit at least 75 percent of his greens in regulation.
In his 14 Masters starts that he didn't win, Woods never hit more than 73.6 percent of his greens.
More than fairways hit or putts per round, the greens in regulation statistic most accurately parallels Tiger's final position on the leaderboard.
He ranked first in the field in that category for his first three wins, and ranked second in his last win in 2005.
Last year, he suffered his worst result as a pro at the Masters, finishing tied for 40th. He also suffered his worst greens in regulation performance, hitting just 55.6 percent and finishing 51st in the field.
For the 2013 PGA TOUR season, Woods ranks 76th on TOUR in greens in regulation, hitting 67 percent.
That hasn't stopped him from winning three times, but if he posts the same percentage this week at Augusta National, history suggests he will not be wearing the Green Jacket on Sunday.
TIGER'S GREENS IN REGULATION AT THE MASTERS
|Year||Greens in regulation||Percentage||Rank in field||Final result|
|1995*||42 of 72||58.3%||43rd||T-41|
|1996*||22 of 36||61.1%||-||Missed Cut|
|1997||55 of 72||76.4%||1st||Won|
|1998||46 of 72||63.9%||17th||T-8|
|1999||50 of 72||69.4%||1st||T-18|
|2000||51 of 72||70.8%||7th||5|
|2001||59 of 72||81.9%||1st||Won|
|2002||54 of 72||75%||1st||Won|
|2003||46 of 72||63.9%||8th||T-15|
|2004||49 of 72||68.1%||5th||T-22|
|2005||54 of 72||75%||2nd||Won|
|2006||47 of 72||65.3%||13th||T-3|
|2007||43 of 72||59.7%||7th||T-2|
|2008||50 of 72||69.5%||7th||2|
|2009||52 of 72||72.2%||6th||T-6|
|2010||49 of 72||68.1%||16th||T-4|
|2011||53 of 72||73.6%||5th||T-4|
|2012||40 of 72||55.6%||51st||T-40|