Lucky seven? Remarkable run of events required to save Tiger Woods from disqualification from the Masters

World number one was given a two shot penalty

Augusta National

What was it Enzo Bearzot said about coaching Italy: "I'd rather be a lucky manager than a good one"? Tiger Woods might concur because a lot of things had to go right to save him from the red card that was coming his way for signing for a wrong score over the weekend here after his illegal drop. Perhaps he deserved a break after watching his ball rebound off the pin into Rae's Creek at the 15th while leading the tournament. Or maybe not, according to the letter of the law.

In order to get that break a magnificent seven ducks had to fall in a row:

1 He needed an individual to be watching television who not only enjoyed the game of golf but who was familiar with the rules and was savvy enough to pick up something on the screen that none of the experts in the studio, some of whom have won a major or two themselves, spotted in real time.

2 He needed that same person to have the presence of mind and inclination to want to get out of their armchair and search for a number to ring in order to let Augusta National know what he or she had spotted. Don't forget, this was happening outside of office hours. Do you ring the television broadcaster or Augusta? And who is sitting around waiting for the phone to ring? As Bubba Watson cheekily asked, what number do you ring? And remember, they don't allow mobiles around here.

3 Woods also needed this armchair vigilante to have got through quickly on the out-of-hours number. Woods is fortunate the tournament was not in Europe – his guardian angel might have been put through to a call centre in India or at best forced to listen through a pre-recorded options list… "Press Five to report a questionable drop."

4 Once connection was made the telephonist at Augusta had to know to whom he or she had to speak in this kind of emergency. This tournament is not a daily occurrence.

5 Following the successful passing-on of the viewer's information up the chain of command it had to reach the competitions committee. Maybe it is like rules central in there. According to the committee chairman, Fred Ridley, a lot of calls come in during this event, raising all manner of issues, and each one is checked out.

6 Once convened the committee had to access the footage from the television company and scrutinise the issue. One assumes there was much to discuss. The members were looking blind. They did not at that point know Tiger's rationale that came out in his post-round interview, in which he incriminated himself by admitting he broke the rules of golf with his illegal drop, so they would have had to determine whether he was dropping from the same spot, or along the line of entry into the water. They concluded it was from the same spot governed by rule 27 1a.

7 All of the above needed to fall into line and in short order before Tiger had completed his round to enable the committee to invoke the discretionary rule 33.7 and reach the decision that Tiger had not deliberately broken the rules and therefore they were satisfied that he could sign for his score. Woods would have been at least on his way to the par-three 16th, if not playing the hole, before this chain of events kicked in. It is not a long hole. If fate had 45 minutes to go from phone call to the committee ruling, that is generous. It was probably less time, demonstrating a remarkable efficacy from viewer, telephonist and the men in green blazers.

That the committee was mistaken in finding no wrongdoing by Woods saved him, because the mistake became the committee's, not the player's, that he signed for a wrong score. The committee could have informed him while he was on the course before he signed his card. Of course, no one knew at the time that the committee had been convened. This only emerged retrospectively when Woods' own testimony alerted studio experts that a rule breach had been committed.

Woods should have disqualified himself. The discretionary rule was introduced two years ago to protect golfers from retrospective rulings brought about by television scrutiny. It was known as the "Harrington Rule" since it was Padraig's misfortune to be caught on TV causing his ball to move. The cameras picked up what was imperceptible to the naked eye. Harrington estimated his ball must have rolled three dimples forward and one and a half back. He could not have known this but the super slo-mo camera revealed all and a penalty was retrospectively imposed after he had signed for his card. He was gone by disqualification.

The "Harrington Rule" allows for committees to waive disqualification only when a golfer could not have known a mistake was being committed. Ignorance is no defence. It is the responsibility of Woods to know the rules but the committee shifted the argument away from his ignorance to its own mistake and he was free and clear. Very lucky indeed.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'