2005: What's online - As a rule, this Masters had its moments
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
The Masters turned into something of a rules clinic for fans who closely followed Tiger Woods.
Three former presidents of the PGA of America – Pat Rielly, Gary Schaal and Dick Smith – held court near the Augusta National clubhouse, focusing their insights on several incidents involving the rules.
On a tap-in by Woods on the 14th green of the first round: “You can’t straddle the line (of the putt), or your foot can’t be on the line,” Smith said. “It may have been a careless putt (Woods hit it with the toe of his putter), but Tiger wasn’t even close (to the line). There was no question.”
On the putt that Woods hit from the back of the 13th green, watching it roll off the green, down a hill, and into Rae’s Creek: “When he replaced the ball on the putting surface (stroke and distance penalty), he was required to place the ball and not drop it,” Schaal said.
On the suspension of play because of darkness: “You can elect to finish the hole you’re on, or you can mark its position where you are,” Rielly said. “If you mark it, you can clean the ball or even change balls.”
This was particularly important for Woods, who was playing the 10th hole when third-round play was suspended on Saturday.
On his drive, the ball collected a glob of mud on the side. In ordinary play it could not have been cleaned, although Woods elected to end his round right there.
Thus he started the next day with a new ball. He birdied the hole, as well as the next three.
On Woods stopping, or checking, his swing halfway through the downswing: “First of all, it’s amazing he can do that,” Rielly said. “Second, there is never a penalty if the player had no intent to hit the ball.”
However, if Woods accidentally had touched the ball with his club and moved it, the penalty would have been one shot. Furthermore, he would have been required to replace the ball.
In a third-round incident, Luke Donald’s tee ball on the par-3 16th hit a turtle and bounced into the pond beside the green.
“Rub of the green,” Smith said. “If you hit an animal, you have to accept it. I remember when Tom Kite hit a shot that struck a bird in the air. He was standing there watching this beautiful shot, when suddenly it hit the bird and fell into the water.”
Austin Eaton III, the U.S. Mid-Amateur champion competing in his first Masters, was penalized two strokes when his father/caddie, Austin II, removed a twig from a bunker on the 16th hole. (Eaton’s ball was in the same bunker, 25 feet from the twig.)
The rule: Man-made or foreign objects, such as a drinking cup or a piece of paper, can be removed. Natural objects cannot.
“You can remove a banana peel,” Schaal said, “unless you are playing a course with banana trees.”
Finally, Fuzzy Zoeller was penalized four strokes for carrying an extra club. For this infraction, four strokes is the maximum penalty for one round.