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Unstuck at 15...or was he?

The Tiger saga: did he or didn’t he? Well, he said he did. The world No. 1 was frank in revealing his strategy in his press conference following his second round at Augusta.

“When I took the drop, I went a couple [of] extra yards back so I wouldn’t have to take something off the shot...” That’s the gist of it. I was intrigued to see the photographs you see here, taken by a snapper sitting in the packed stand to the left of 15. He didn’t move an inch or adjust the settings on his camera – and the comparative shots show Woods hitting his first pitch (left) and then the second pitch (right). The graphics that have been added circle blemishes on the fairway for the purpose of trying to establish exactly how far from the original spot Woods dropped his ball after finding the water.

This is one of those issues that will be discussed ad nauseam. But the interesting point it raises is can a player be penalised for thinking about taking a course of action that [albeit inadvertently] breaks the rule of the game, but not actually doing it? Tiger was totally honest about his intention – and there is not even the slightest suggestion that he would knowingly bend a rule – and yet when you look at these images it appears as though he dropped his ball very close indeed to the original spot.

How close, exactly, are you supposed or expected to drop a ball in this situation? An inch? Six inches? What’s the acceptable margin here? (Would have been pretty tough in the old days to stand facing the target, drop a ball over your shoulder and get it to land obediently anywhere near the original spot!) The Rules allow for the ball to roll up to a club’s length from the original marked spot [not nearer the hole] and be legally in play. What if Tiger was thinking it through in his mind that adding a couple of yards would help him find his range with his wedge, but when thinking came to doing he actually dropped his ball legally?

Tough to call, isn’t it. And yet we’re all armchair experts in front of the telly.

Of course the Rules of Golf are such that a player who suffers the sort of misfortune Tiger did with his original shot into the par five is penalised out of all proportion; a duffer could stand over that shot, miss the ball altogether and still be playing four. Tiger fizzes in a near-perfect wedge off a tight lie only to see the ball ricochet off the stick into the hazard, and finds himself playing five. Or 7, whichever way you want to look at it.

How different it all would have been if that original shot had been justly rewarded.

You’ll find plenty more debate on all of the talking points from a particularly enjoyable Masters at Augusta inside this issue, which you may have noticed enjoys a fresh new design. The dimensions of the magazine have been adjusted by fractions of an inch (all it takes in this game!) in a quest to bring you not only the best read but also the best looking publication in golf.

On behalf of the team here at Gi, I hope you enjoy it.

June 2013

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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