Inside the Tiger Woods rules situation on 18 at the Hero World Challenge

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Inside the Tiger Woods rules situation on 18 at the Hero World Challenge

PGA Tour

Inside the Tiger Woods rules situation on 18 at the Hero World Challenge

NASSAU, Bahamas – Tiger Woods played 17 strong holes Friday in Round 2 of the Hero World Challenge, but a double bogey at the par-4 18th hurt his card and created a lot of rules confusion in the process.

Woods shot 3-under 69 on the afternoon and is 2-under for the tournament, eight shots behind co-leaders Jon Rahm and Henrik Stenson. He tees off at 11:49 a.m. with Bryson DeChambeau Saturday in Round 3.

His iron play was excellent and there were plenty of highlights. But once it was over the rules situation on 18 dominated discussion.

Here’s what happened as it went down in real time on the course

Woods hit 3-wood off the tee, the first time all afternoon he’d hit any club other than driver on the par-4 and 5s.

He knew it was in trouble and when he reached the ball well right of the fairway he discovered it tucked under a bush, nestled against a cable cord. A group of fans already had the area surrounded to watch the Woods recovery shot up close.

The total number of spectators at this tournament is tiny compared to others, but on the flip side they’re able to get really close to the players in certain spots.

Caddie Joe LaCava is no stranger to crowd control mode and quickly told a patch of fans to move a certain direction to clear a path for Woods’ punch-out try. He’s very matter-of-fact when giving instructions and it happens all the time.

Meanwhile, Woods called for a rules official. Robby Ware arrived on the scene and Woods said, ‘I want to move the cord.’

Ware told him to mark his ball, but not to touch the ball first.

Woods marked his ball with a tee and carefully pulled the cord toward him, away from the mark.

Woods studied the shot the way he always does when he has a tricky lie. You can see the wheels turning in his head every time this happens. He’ll examine with his eyes first, looking carefully at the lie. Sometimes he just stares at the same spot for a few seconds. It’s like he’s taking a massive internal inventory of the shots he’s hit before, searching for something that might fit this particular situation.

Then he experiments with a few different stances to see if he can even get a club on the ball. Once he finds one that might work, he starts trying different swing motions with different takeaways.

Woods finally settled on squatting down and taking knee with his right leg. He moved the clubface in a few different positions and finally took a hack at the ball. It trickled down out of the bush, into the right rough.

Woods let out a deep exhale.

Standing about 6-7 feet away, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Woods didn’t look at all hesitant or jumpy about the stroke that occurred. From a an on-site perspective it just looked like a solid out that might give him a chance to salvage par.

There wasn’t a single word spoken about a controversy on-course until people started receiving text messages that it was potentially fishy and being replayed in slow motion on Golf Channel. It looked like maybe a double-hit or scoop from that perspective, which would have led to a two-stroke penalty had it been called in real time.

Woods’ approach shot from the rough was short, the chip wasn’t very close and he two-putted for double bogey.

The situation wasn’t brought to Woods’ attention until he entered the scoring tent.

“When I walked in there, (PGA Tour rules official Peter Dachisen) was there and he says that there was a question on what happened on the second shot on 18,” Woods said. “So I stayed in the tent and (Tour VP of Rules and Competition Mark Russell) ended up going down to the TV compound to take a look at it and that’s what’s been taking the time that we spent in the tent.”

Woods spent at least 20 minutes in the tent while media and Tour officials lingered outside a nearby interview area. Most were trying to get a look at the video on their phones and discussing the possible outcomes.

Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele, playing in the group behind Woods and Hideki Matsuyama, went in the tent, signed and left before Woods exited. When he finally left he explained what happened in his own words.

“I didn’t feel like I made contact twice,” Woods said. “It was such a short little shot, I was just trying to hit it sideways there. Under slow motion and high def, you can see that the ball hit the clubface twice, but there is no penalty.”

That’s due to rule 34-3/10, a relatively new addition to the book. It basically says penalties can’t be applied on things that ‘could not reasonably be seen with the naked eye’ when they occur. It eliminates super slow-motion angles, zoom-ins, etc.

Russell said they asked Woods if he thought he hit the ball twice when it happened, and Woods said he didn’t.

That meant the slow motion replays were irrelevant. And if this had occurred next month it would be irrelevant anyways, because double hits aren’t a penalty under the forthcoming modern rules of golf.

Basically, all the rules were applied properly in real time. It just took quite a while to sort out.

As for the other 17 holes, Woods 8 of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens. He made some clutch par putts and missed a handful of birdie putts by the thinnest of margins. The driver wasn’t quite as good as it had been earlier in the week, but the iron play and chipping was much better.

In the end, Woods ended up with the score he deserved.

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