Tiger Woods cards 69, avoids penalty at Hero World Challenge

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Tiger Woods cards 69, avoids penalty at Hero World Challenge

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Tiger Woods cards 69, avoids penalty at Hero World Challenge

Tiger Woods had gotten to within four shots of the lead Friday at the Hero World Challenge. Through 17 holes, he was 5 under for his round and 4 under on the leaderboard.

But then the 18th hole happened.

Woods drove his ball right with 3-wood, finding a palmetto bush. After an awkward punch-out from his knees, Woods went on to make double bogey, which left him with a second-round, 3-under 69.

When he holed his putt for double, Woods, who had just been T-6, found himself in a share of 15th – or tied for last. There are just 18 players in the field this week at Albany Golf Course in the Bahamas, and by the end of the day Woods was beating just one player (Jason Day) and trailed co-leaders Henrik Stenson and Jon Rahm by eight shots.

But there was more to the final hole. After Woods’ round, officials took a closer look at his shot from the bush to see if Woods double-hit the ball. Slow-motion replay didn’t clearly distinguish one way or the other, with the front camera angle showing Woods, who had inches of room to bring the club back, was close to scooping the ball out of the bush.

Rule 14-1a of the Rules of Golf says that “the ball must be fairly struck at with the head of the club and must not be pushed, scraped or spooned.”

After more than 15 minutes of discussion, rules officials determined there was no penalty.

“I didn’t feel like I violated any rules, but the rules official pulled me aside and said, ‘Hey, there may e a violation there,'” Woods said. “We took a look at it. They were in the truck watching it, trying to determine whether or not I had hit the ball twice. I didn’t feel like I hit it twice. It happened so fast and was such a short motion.

“But under high-def and super-slow-mo you can see it, I made contact twice. … There is no violation, I guess, so I shot what I shot today.”

The PGA Tour’s vice president of rules and competitions, Mark Russell, explained to Golf Channel why Woods was not penalized, saying that Decision 18/4 was used in this case. That decision states that “a player’s determination that the ball has not moved will be deemed to be conclusive, even if that determination is later shown to be incorrect through the use of sophisticated technology.”

“Tiger didn’t think he hit the ball twice and it was not discernible to the naked eye,” Russell said. “… We had to look at high-speed, slow-motion video to determine that the ball probably did stay on the clubface a little too long. But there was no way he could’ve known that, and with this new decision there is no penalty.”

Woods didn’t make anything worse than par in his first 17 holes Friday while carding five birdies, four of which came on a par-5; Albany has five of them. He hit the par-5 third in two and two-putted for birdie. He then nearly holed a wedge shot for birdie at the sixth. His birdie at the ninth came from 12 feet.

He added back-to-back birdies at the short par-4 14th and on a two-putt at the par-5 15th.

It was the second straight day that Woods had essentially had his round blemished by one hole. On Thursday, he triple-bogeyed the par-3 12th and shot 73.

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