Category: 2013 Masters

May 01, 2013

USGA, R&A release statement on Tiger Woods's illegal drop ruling at the Masters

Posted at 10:42 AM by

The USGA and R&A -- golf's official ruling bodies -- released a joint statement concerning the controversy surrounding Tiger Woods's two-stroke penalty at the Masters for an illegal drop on the 15th hole during the second round. Read the statement in its entirety below.


Far Hills, N.J., USA and St Andrews, Scotland (May 1, 2013) - The United States Golf Association (USGA) and The R&A, golf's governing bodies, today released the following statement to provide guidance to players and Rules officials on the Rules decision involving Tiger Woods at the 2013 Masters Tournament.

During the second round, Tiger Woods played his third stroke from the fairway of the 15th hole to the putting green, where his ball struck the flagstick and deflected into the water hazard in front of the green. He elected to take stroke-and-distance relief under Rule 26-1a, incurring a one-stroke penalty (his fourth stroke on the hole). He then dropped and played a ball to the putting green (his fifth stroke), and holed his putt. After finishing his round, he signed and returned his score card, recording a score of 6 for the 15th hole.

Before Woods returned his score card, the Masters Tournament Committee had received an inquiry from a television viewer questioning whether Woods had dropped his ball in a wrong place. After reviewing the available video, but without talking with Woods, the Committee ruled that he had complied with Rule 26-1a and that no penalty had been incurred. The following morning, after additional questions had been raised about the incident in a Woods television interview, the Committee talked with Woods, reviewed the video with him and reversed its decision, ruling that he had incurred a two-stroke penalty for dropping in and playing from a wrong place in breach of Rules 26-1a and 20-7c.

This also meant that, in returning his score card the previous day, Woods had breached Rule 6-6d by returning a score (6) for the 15th hole that was lower than his actual score (8). The penalty for such a breach of Rule 6-6d is disqualification. Under Rule 33-7 ("Disqualification Penalty; Committee Discretion"), a Committee has discretion to waive that penalty in "exceptional individual cases." As discussed below, the Committee elected to invoke that discretion and waived Woods' penalty of disqualification.

Explanation of the Rulings

This situation raised two questions of interpretation under the Rules of Golf.
1. The Ruling that Woods Dropped in and Played from a Wrong Place

The first question was whether, after taking relief, Woods played his next stroke in accordance with the Rules. The Masters Tournament Committee ultimately answered no and imposed a two-stroke penalty because Woods did not drop and play a ball "as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played," as required under Rule 26-1a. The Rules do not define "as nearly as possible" in terms of a specific measured distance, because the conditions unique to each situation can affect how near to the original spot it is possible to drop a ball and because dropping a ball is an imprecise act. But in this type of situation, in which that original spot was clearly identifiable as being just behind the back edge of the divot hole created by Woods' previous stroke and in which there were no other unusual circumstances, "as nearly as possible" means that the player must attempt to drop the ball on or next to (but not nearer the hole than) that spot. Woods did not do so. In his post-round media comments, he stated that he dropped the ball about two yards behind that divot hole. Although the precise distance away was not determined, he clearly dropped the ball a significant distance away from that spot and did not satisfy the "as nearly as possible" requirement in these circumstances. As a result, he was penalized two strokes for dropping in and playing from a wrong place.

2. The Decision to Waive the Penalty of Disqualification
The second question was whether the Committee was permitted to waive the penalty of disqualification that otherwise applied to Woods under Rule 6-6d, which provides that a competitor "is responsible for the correctness of the score recorded for each hole on his score card. If he returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, he is disqualified." For nearly 60 years, the Rules have provided Committees with limited discretion to waive a disqualification penalty. Under Rule 33-7, "[a] penalty of disqualification may in exceptional individual cases be waived, modified or imposed if the Committee considers such action warranted."

Such discretion is not intended to protect a competitor from the consequences of his erroneous application of the Rules. The fact that Woods, when he returned his score card, was not aware that he had incurred a two-stroke penalty on the 15th hole was not a basis to waive disqualification under Rule 33-7. Moreover, contrary to what some have suggested, the decision of the Committee to waive the disqualification penalty for Woods was not and could not have been based on Decision 33-7/4.5, a 2011 Decision that permits waiver of disqualification where "the competitor could not reasonably have known or discovered the facts resulting in his breach of the Rules." That extremely narrow exception, which relates generally to use of high-definition or slow-motion video to identify facts not reasonably visible to the naked eye, was not applicable here and had no bearing on the Committee's decision. Woods was aware of the only relevant fact: the location of the spot from which he last played his ball. His two-stroke penalty resulted from an erroneous application of the Rules, which he was responsible for knowing and applying correctly. Viewing the incident solely from the standpoint of Woods' actions, there was no basis to waive the penalty of disqualification under Rule 6-6d.

However, the Masters Tournament Committee did not base its exercise of discretion under Rule 33-7 on any circumstances specific to Woods' knowledge, but rather on the consequences of the Committee's own actions. Before Woods had returned his score card for the second round, the Committee had received an inquiry from a television viewer questioning whether Woods, in taking relief under Rule 26-1a at the 15th hole, had dropped his ball sufficiently close to the spot from which he had played his original ball. The Committee promptly reviewed an available video and determined that Woods had dropped and played correctly under Rule 26-1a and therefore had not incurred a penalty. The Committee did not talk with Woods before making this ruling or inform him of the ruling. Woods therefore signed and returned his score card without knowledge of the Committee's ruling or the questions about his drop on the 15th hole. The following morning, after additional questions had been raised about the incident in a television interview, the Committee discussed the incident with Woods, reviewed the video with him and reversed its decision, ruling that Woods had dropped in and played from a wrong place.

In deciding to waive the disqualification penalty, the Committee recognized that had it talked to Woods - before he returned his score card - about his drop on the 15th hole and about the Committee's ruling, the Committee likely would have corrected that ruling and concluded that Woods had dropped in and played from a wrong place. In that case, he would have returned a correct score of 8 for the 15th hole and the issue of disqualification would not have arisen.

The Decisions on the Rules of Golf authorize a Committee to correct an incorrect decision before the competition has closed, and they establish that where a Committee incorrectly advises a competitor, before he returns his score card, that he has incurred no penalty, and then subsequently corrects its mistake, it is appropriate for the Committee to waive the disqualification penalty. See Decision 34-3/1. The Woods situation differed from the situation in Decision 34-3/1, and in other Decisions that protect a competitor from disqualification where the competitor has relied on erroneous information from a referee or the Committee, in that Woods was not informed of the Committee's initial ruling and therefore did not rely on the Committee's advice in returning his score card. This situation therefore raised a question not expressly addressed in the existing Decisions under Rules 33-7 and 34-3 and that reflected two competing considerations. On the one hand, the Decisions provide that the player's responsibility for his own score is not excused by his ignorance or misapplication of the Rules. On the other hand, the Decisions provide that a Committee may correct an erroneous decision and may take its error into account in determining whether it is appropriate to waive the penalty of disqualification. In effect, based on all of the facts discussed above, in this case both the competitor and the Committee reached an incorrect decision before the score card was returned.

The Masters Tournament Committee concluded that its actions taken prior to Woods' returning his score card created an exceptional individual case that unfairly led to the potential for disqualification. In hindsight, the Committee determined that its initial ruling was incorrect, as well as that it had erred in resolving this question without first seeking information from Woods and in failing to inform Woods of the ruling. Given the unusual combination of facts - as well as the fact that nothing in the existing Rules or Decisions specifically addressed such circumstances of simultaneous competitor error and Committee error - the Committee reasonably exercised its discretion under Rule 33-7 to waive the penalty of disqualification under Rule 6-6d, while still penalizing Woods two strokes under Rules 26-1a and 20-7c for playing from a wrong place.

Scope of Committee Discretion to Waive a Penalty of Disqualification for Failure to Return Correct Score
Since this ruling at the 2013 Masters Tournament, the USGA and The R&A have received various inquiries about the scope of a Committee's discretion to waive a penalty of disqualification where the player has failed to return a correct score card. The Woods ruling was based on exceptional facts, as required by Rule 33-7, and should not be viewed as a general precedent for relaxing or ignoring a competitor's essential obligation under the Rules to return a correct score card. Further, although a Committee should do its best to alert competitors to potential Rules issues that may come to its attention, it has no general obligation to do so; and the fact that a Committee may be aware of such a potential issue before the competitor returns his score card should not, in and of itself, be a basis for waiving a penalty of disqualification under Rule 6-6d. Only a rare set of facts, akin to the exceptional facts at the 2013 Masters Tournament as summarized in the previous paragraphs, would justify a Committee's use of its discretion to waive a penalty of disqualification for returning an incorrect score card.

Future Review
The USGA and The R&A continuously work to monitor and assess the Rules of Golf in practice, to observe and incorporate the lessons of experience, and, as appropriate, to clarify and revise the Rules and Decisions to ensure that the Rules operate in the best interests of the game and that their appropriate interpretation and application are understood and consistently followed. In recent years, the USGA and The R&A have been assessing the Rules that relate to score cards and disqualification. As part of this ongoing assessment, and in keeping with this regular practice, the Rules of Golf Committees of the USGA and The R&A will review the exceptional situation that occurred at the 2013 Masters Tournament, assess the potential implications for other types of situations, and determine whether any adjustment to the Rules and/or the Decisions is appropriate.

April 18, 2013

Masters star Guan Tianlang sticking to his routine in New Orleans

Posted at 8:12 PM by Mark Dee

Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old breakout star of this year's Masters, is sticking with his routine in preparation for play at next week's Zurich Classic of New Orleans. That means practicing, studying and, yes, grinding out shots in the same deliberate manner that got him slapped with a controversial slow play penalty at Augusta.

Things have been moving fast for Guan since then, and he expects his on-course pace to pick up at New Orleans as well. "I think my routine is not too bad," he said Wednesday. "It's just the time it takes to make a decision. The wind at Augusta swirls, so [it was hard] to make decisions in a quick time."

Good that one thing will stay the same for Guan, who thrust himself into international prominence last week by becoming the youngest player to ever make the cut in the Masters. He hasn't been home to Guangzhou, China in almost a month, and doesn't have firm plans yet for his return. Despite traveling with his parents, Guan admitted he was "a little bit homesick" on Wednesday.

But this extended trip hasn't been a vacation for the eighth grader. According to his mother, Guan is keeping up with his studies, and has done his homework every day except during the competition rounds of the Masters. For the now-famous 14-year-old, it's all part of the routine: And why not? "There's Wi-Fi in the Crow's Nest," he said.

(Photo: John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated)

April 17, 2013

Masters winner Adam Scott shares golf tips

Posted at 3:13 PM by Mark Dee

Scott1000You probably can't swing like Adam Scott, and no, a few tips won't change that. But lately, we're learning that anything a man can do to be more like this year's Masters champ, will probably improve their game.

With that in mind, we point your attention to Men's Journal, where before the tournament Scott explained six tips for playing better golf. New or not, it's always worth taking advice from a guy in green.

Follow the link for the full slide show.

(Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images)

April 16, 2013

Actor Adam Scott fed up with jokes about golfer Adam Scott

Posted at 6:02 PM by Mike Walker

Adam Scott is known as one of the nicest guys on the PGA Tour, but there's one guy who's not happy about Scott winning the 2013 Masters. His name? Actor Adam Scott.

The actor, who is one of the stars of "Parks and Recreation," appeared on "Conan" Monday to complain about all the golf jokes he's been hearing since Scott's win on Sunday night like, "Hey, Adam. You know what's really under par? Your acting."

Here's the clip:

Masters on CBS draws second-most viewers in 12 years

Posted at 1:50 PM by Cameron Morfit

Adam-scottWhatever you made of the controversial ruling that allowed Tiger Woods to keep playing on the weekend, it certainly didn't hurt the TV ratings for the 77th Masters.

According to CBS, an estimated 44.3 million viewers watched all or part of the weekend coverage as Adam Scott emerged from a crowded leaderboard to turn back Angel Cabrera on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff. Woods was within striking distance for most of the weekend and finished tied for fourth place.

The tournament's 44.3 million weekend viewers was up 13 percent from the 39.3 million who watched Bubba Watson beat Louis Oosthuizen, also on the second hole of a playoff, in 2012. The number of viewers was the second-highest in 12 years, behind only the 2010 Masters. In 2010, 46.5 million viewers tuned into the Masters to watch Phil Mickelson win. The 2010 Masters was also Tiger Woods's first tournament after his sex scandals.

Woods would have been disqualified from the tournament for taking an improper drop and signing an incorrect scorecard Friday, but the tournament's rules committee cited mitigating circumstances and he was assessed only a two-stroke penalty.

The soft-spoken Scott's victory played especially well in Australia, as he became the first golfer from that country to win the green jacket after decades of heartache, particularly in the form of the hard-luck former No. 1 Greg Norman, Scott's mentor and former President Cup captain.  

The telecast's ratings also may have benefited from Scott's movie star good looks, which make him must-see TV for a certain cross-section of discerning fans who aren't necessarily interested in golf.

(Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

April 15, 2013

Adam Scott predicted Masters finish in high school yearbook

Posted at 4:44 PM by Mike Walker

Adam Scott was 32 years old when he won his first major Sunday night at Augusta National, but he predicted it in his high school yearbook many years ago.

After Scott sank his birdie on the second playoff hole against Angel Cabrera and put on the green jacket as Masters champion, his former swing coach Claude Harmon III tweeted out a picture of Scott's yearbook photo from Kooalbyn International School near Brisbane, Australia. Scott, who birdied the 18th hole to get into the playoff with Cabrera, was just following his own advice.

Ambtion: "To the be the best professional golfer."

Favorite Comment: "I am Adam Scott."

Favourite Expression: "If all else fails, birdie the last."


Snarky BuzzFeed Sports titled their post on Scott's yearbook "Adam Scott Wasn't Always Hot".

SI swimsuit model Kate Upton attends 2013 Masters

Posted at 3:34 PM by Mike Walker

Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton is becoming a golf fan.

Just weeks after having dinner with Arnold Palmer at the Arnold Palmer Inviational at Bay Hill in Orlando, Upton attended the Masters over the weekend.


Hovercrafts? Kate Upton? Who said golf was boring?

April 14, 2013

Gary Player's Diary: The Most Impressive Feat I've Ever Seen

Posted at 10:22 PM by

“It’s sad someone had to lose.” You’ll hear that a lot after the remarkable ending we saw Sunday at Augusta. Given the way that Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera played, it’s more than sad. It’s cruel. That’s why I’ve always been opposed to sudden-death playoffs. When two men tie, they should hold the trophy jointly. When there’s a tie in the Kentucky Derby, they don’t go back and run a 50-yard dash. When there’s a tie in the World Heavyweight Championship, they don’t go back and box for ten seconds. A golf tournament is advertised as 72 holes. So how can you settle it over just one? I’m sorry, it’s too cruel. Especially the way they played!

These tournaments mean so much, personally and professionally. I’ve been second many, many times, and nobody will remember any of my runner-up finishes. Angel Cabrera tied for first, but years on we’ll forget. That’s the tragedy: He was a fraction of a fraction of a percentage point away from winning -- which came in extra holes -- and no one will remember. Golf is a tough game. Look at Tiger Woods. He lost by four shots, and he was basically penalized by four strokes on a single hole, for hitting a perfect shot. If his third shot on the par-5 15th on Friday does not hit the pin, then it does not ricochet into the water, and he might have tied for the Masters lead after 72 holes, at 9-under. That’s how exacting our game is.

Still, I’m thrilled for Adam Scott’s first major victory. A golf swing that beautiful deserves a green jacket. More than that, he is a thorough gentleman. Adam played for me on three Presidents Cup teams, and I can say that he’s a wonderful young man. It was devastating to watch him blow the British Open last year. That’s a terrible thing to live with. People will say that it only took him two majors to get over it, but that misses the point. It’s the following months, days and minutes that are always with you, not just in the majors. I’m glad he has that burden off his back. He’s carried it long enough. He’s a terrific young man to be called Masters champion.

When I look back at this week, I’ll remember Scott for his victory and for bringing the first green jacket home to the great sporting nation of Australia. But he’ll have to share the stage with Guan Tianlang. What Guan did this week is the most impressive thing I’ve seen in my 60 years in professional golf, both in terms of his play and his demeanor: A boy of 14 making the cut -- despite that dreaded penalty stroke for slow play on Friday, and handling it like someone three times his age! It heartens me to know that the future of golf is in such hands. I’ve used the same word all week to describe it, and I’ll say it one last time: It’s a miracle what that boy did. Then again, so much at Augusta is.


GARY PLAYER MASTERS DIARY: Time to Move On After Tiger Penalty

GARY PLAYER MASTERS DIARY: How Would China React To Guan's Penalty?


GARY PLAYER MASTERS DIARY: What Really Happens at Champions Dinner

GARY PLAYER MASTERS DIARY: The World's Greatest Driving Range

GARY PLAYER MASTERS DIARY: Coming to Augusta Is Like Coming Home

April 13, 2013

Masters 2013 Round 4 Live Blog

Posted at 7:38 PM by is live blogging the final round of the Masters. Follow the action below.

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Leaderboard | Round 3 Photos | SI's 100 Best Masters Photos

Masters 2013 Round 3 Live Blog

Posted at 12:27 PM by Kevin Cunningham is live blogging the third round of the 2013 Masters. Follow along below.

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