- AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
- A crime in action: Tiger Woods drops his ball illegally on the 15th hole at Augusta National.
Augusta National was beautiful as ever last weekend. But why gaze at a lush, rolling, azalea-lined golf course when you can have your nose in a rulebook?
Australian Adam Scott won the Masters with a belly putter that soon may be declared illegal. That’s fitting, because the Rules of Golf commanded attention at the storied tournament this year. On Friday, 14-year-old Guan Tianlang, the youngest player in Masters history by more than two years, was penalized a stroke for playing too slowly, a violation of Rule 6-7. (“The player must play without undue delay.”)
Then on Saturday morning, tournament officials assessed Tiger Woods two strokes for an illegal ball drop during his Friday round. Tiger’s approach shot on the 15th had nicked the pin and then spun crazily into a pond, so he had to take a stroke-and-distance penalty and hit the shot again. But he dropped his second ball two yards behind the spot where he’d played the first one, in violation of Rule 26-1a. (“Proceed . . . by playing a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played.”) The penalty gave him an eight on the hole, but, unaware of his felony on Friday, he signed a scorecard at the end of the round that said he’d made a six. Signing an incorrect scorecard subjects a player to expulsion from a competition, in accordance with Rule 6-6d. (“The competitor is responsible for the correctness of the score recorded for each hole on his score card. If he returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, he is disqualified.”) But Tiger was saved by Rule 33-7. (“A penalty of disqualification may in exceptional individual cases be waived.”)