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Tiger Woods Not Disqualified From Masters, Given 2-Shot Penalty Over Illegal Drop On 15th Hole [UPDATED]

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Tiger Woods reacts after his fairway shot on the 15th hole hit the pin and rolled into the water during the second round of the Masters golf tournament Friday, April 12, 2013, in Augusta, Ga. | AP

Tiger Woods has avoided being disqualified from the Masters but his chances of winning at Augusta did get a bit longer.

On Saturday morning, Masters officials assessed a 2-stroke penalty relating to Woods' drop on the 15th hole during the second round on Friday. This penalty moved Woods to 1-under after two rounds, five strokes back of leader Jason Day.

Woods' misadventures on the par-5 15th hole began when his approach shot hit the pin and bounced back into the water. Woods took a drop near the spot of his third shot and then hit a beautiful wedge shot within a few feet of the hole. He would putt for bogey but surrender a share of the lead. Woods finished the second round with a 71 on his score card, leaving him at 3-under for the tournament and three strokes back of Day.

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An Augusta spokesperson told The Associated Press on Saturday morning that video of the incident was under review to see if Woods adhered to the rules about taking his drop as near as possible to the spot it was previously played. After completing his round, Woods told reporters that he took his drop "2 yards further back" from the previous shot.

“I went down to the drop area, that wasn't going to be a good spot, because obviously it's into the grain, its really grainy there. And it was a little bit wet. So it was muddy and not a good spot to drop,” Woods told reporters on Friday, via Golfweek. “So I went back to where I played it from, but I went 2 yards further back and I took, tried to take 2 yards off the shot of what I felt I hit.”

According to a statement issued by Fred Ridley, chairman of the competition committees at Augusta National, Woods' post-round quotes prompted further review of the incident. The statement indicated that the drop had initially been reviewed while Woods was still on the course but no infraction had been observed. The Rules Committee at Augusta was "prompted by a television viewer" who saw Woods' interview to conduct the second review that resulted in the punishment, according to the statement.

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As much of an issue for Woods as the illegal drop was that he signed his score card for an incorrect 71. According to Golf Channel, Woods avoided disqualification for an incorrect score card under rule Rule 33-7.

"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," the statement issued by Ridley read.

Rule 33-7 was revised by R&A and USGA in April 2011 and affected potential disqualifications resulting from "score card errors identified as the result of recent advances in video technologies."

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While the two-stroke penalty and lack of disqualification caught many by surprise on social media, at least two of Woods' peers believed it was a fair call.

Hunter Mahan
Two shot penalty official. I like this ruling because he took an illegal drop but no official brought it to his attn.

Graeme McDowell
Take the fact that it was Tiger out of the equation and it is a fair ruling. Since it is him the debate begins about TV ratings etc etc.

Despite some support for the ruling among golfers, not everyone was pleased. Golfer and analyst Nick Faldo described the situation as "dreadful." Both Faldo and golfer David Duval suggested Woods should withdraw from the tournament.

“Me personally, this is dreadful,” Faldo said on Golf Channel after the ruling. “I think Tiger would gain massive brownie points if he stood up and said, you know what boys, I broke the rule.”

David Duval
I think he should WD. He took a drop to gain an advantage.

With 14-year-old Chinese amateur Guan Tianlang being issued a one-stroke penalty for slow play on Friday, the rules have taken center stage at the 2013 Masters. Guan made the cut, becoming the youngest player ever to do so at the Masters, despite the penalty.

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Less than two hours before his scheduled tee time, Woods weighed in on the penalty via Twitter, explaining his version of events on 15 and noting that he does "accept the penalty and respect the Committees’ decision."

Not surprisingly, Woods was hardly the only one commenting on the controversial decision on social media.

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