Tiger Woods sparked Masters rules storm with accidental admission but phone call saved him

April 11, 2024

A random phone call and an infamous post-round interview put Tiger Woods at the centre of a huge rules storm at the 2013 Masters.Rewind 11 years and life was very different for Woods, who was healthy and highly-fancied to win a fifth Green Jacket.Woods’ drop on 15 in 2013 is the stuff of legendWoods’ drop on 15 in 2013 is the stuff of legendCredit: Getty Images – GettyBut he would have to overcome career-threatening injuries and wait another six years for that 15th major after what happened on the 15th hole in round two.World no.1 Woods was five-under and tied for the lead before a truly horrible break at the iconic par-5.The American struck a beautiful approach shot from 87 yards, which ought to have set up a short-range birdie putt, but it was too good.Woods’ ball cannoned off the flagstick and rolled back into the hazard, forcing him to take a penalty drop.’It’s flattering’ – Rory McIlroy responds to Tiger Woods’ bold Masters predictionTiger Woods makes Masters press room laugh with honest answer about how his body feelsHowever, it was the following events which put the legendary golfer out of contention and at risk of disqualification from the Masters.Woods took an improper drop and inadvertently admitted it in his post-round interview.He had three options: use the drop zone, go back on line from where the ball entered the water, or drop as close as possible to the original spot.But Woods did none of those things and later told ESPN: “I played it two yards back.”Eerie omen suggests Ludvig Aberg could become first rookie to win Masters in 45 yearsWoods suffers Masters blow as bad weather could force him to complete 24 holes in one dayJon Rahm’s champions dinner at The Masters was a nice nod to golf legend Seve BallesterosThe Masters tee times: Groupings and schedule confirmed but bad weather causes delaysWoods inadvertently dobbed himself in after the break on 15Credit: GettyEven after the interview, nobody immediately noticed the infringement, with everybody still transfixed by the stroke of misfortune which preceded it.Nobody, that is, except former rules official David Eger, who was watching on TV at home. Tiger Woods pulls out ‘wildest move in golf history’ during long-drive contest with podcasterAfter seeing the incident live, Eger knew that Woods was about to sign for a bogey 6, when actually his score on 15th should have been a triple-bogey 8 due to the bad drop.In that case, Augusta would be forced to consider disqualifying Woods for signing an incorrect scorecard.“I played it back three or four times before I made a call,” Eger said years later.“I’m looking at something knowing there’s no divot hole when he played the [original] shot. And then there was a divot hole when he dropped. I could see that.Advertisement”And that’s why I kept replaying it to make sure. I hesitated on calling simply because I knew how controversial it was going to be.”If it would have been Joe Schmo, I would have called in, too. It didn’t matter. I was trying to save the player from being disqualified.”A rule storm was brewing while Woods completed his second roundCredit: GettyChief rules official Fred Ridley, now Augusta chairman, became aware of the incident during Woods’ closing holes, but initially decided there was no wrongdoing and did not question the golfer in the scoring tent.However, as a result of Woods’ comments and growing coverage of the drop throughout Friday night, the rules committee was forced to take a closer look.They would ultimately determine that Woods had, in fact, broken the rules.The story began to gather pace and there was a genuine belief that Augusta would be forced to disqualify the tournament’s biggest star.Woods was summoned by the committee on Saturday morning – but he escaped with a two-stroke penalty.At the time, players could avoid disqualification if they were not presented with the proper information when signing their card.Explaining the decision at a news conference, Ridley said: “Tiger was entitled to have the benefit of that decision when he signed his scorecard.”And to me it would have been grossly unfair to Tiger to have disqualified him after our committee had made that decision [not to tell him].”Woods’ score was eventually corrected to reflect the 8 on 15Credit: For weeks, the identity of the caller was a mystery, and many felt Woods had been the beneficiary of special treatment.But later, journalist Michael Bamberger discovered that Eger was the man who phoned in, and that he had actually saved Woods.Bamberger wrote: “It should be noted that Eger’s call saved Woods from disqualification, because it spurred Ridley’s incorrect interpretation, which was challenged by Woods’ own comments to ESPN, which enabled Ridley to invoke Rule 33-7, the one that allows wrongs to be righted.”In the end, Woods should have left the 15th with a birdie 4, but instead carded a triple-bogey 8.This was a different Fury, press conference shows how seriously he is taking UsykPhil Foden given ultimate compliment from Noel Gallagher after Man City heroicsHe would finish in a tie for fourth, four shots behind eventual winner Adam Scott.And Woods, for a multitude of reasons, was never quite the same.