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
News
US comedian Bill Mahr
people
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Sport
football
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Life and Style
Models – and musicians – on the catwalk in Dior Homme for the men’s 2015/16 fashion show in Paris
fashionAt this season's Paris shows, various labels played with the city boys' favourite
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us