USGA, R&A issue statement supporting Woods' Masters ruling


Though the calendar has officially turned to May, the golf world can't seem to shake one of the biggest storylines that emerged during April.

Issuing a joint statement Wednesday, the USGA and R&A wrote a lengthy interpretation of the situation surrounding Tiger Woods and his infamous drop during the second round of the Masters. After a thorough analysis of the various factors involved, the pair of governing bodies concluded that the Rules Committee at Augusta National got it right.

'Given the unusual combination of facts – as well as the fact that nothing in the existing Rules or Decisions specifically addressed such circumstances of simultaneous competitor error and Committee error – the Committee reasonably exercised its discretion under Rule 33-7 to waive the penalty of disqualification,' the statement read in part.

Read full USGA and R&A statement regarding Woods' ruling

Though they ultimately agreed with the committee's decision, the USGA and R&A did hold Woods somewhat responsible for his role in the drama that ensued.

'Such discretion is not intended to protect a competitor from the consequences of his erroneous application of the Rules,' they said of the committee's right to wave a disqualification penalty under Rule 33-7. 'Woods was aware of the only relevant fact: the location of the spot from which he last played his ball. His two-stroke penalty resulted from an erroneous application of the Rules, which he was responsible for knowing and applying correctly.' 

The statement went on to place as much, if not more, blame at the feet of the tournament committee for the situation that resulted.

'The Masters Tournament Committee did not base its exercise of discretion under Rule 33-7 on any circumstances specific to Woods’ knowledge, but rather on the consequences of the Committee’s own actions,' it read in part. 'In deciding to waive the disqualification penalty, the Committee recognized that had it talked to Woods – before he returned his score card – about his drop on the 15th hole and about the Committee’s ruling, the Committee likely would have corrected that ruling and concluded that Woods had dropped in and played from a wrong place.'

Ultimately the statement concluded that though the ruling was correct, essentially because the various factors involved had no specific precedent, it was the result of errors from both parties involved.

'In hindsight, the Committee determined that its initial ruling was incorrect, as well as that it had erred in resolving this question without first seeking information from Woods and in failing to inform Woods of the ruling,' the statement continued. 'In effect, based on all of the facts discussed above, in this case both the competitor and the Committee reached an incorrect decision before the score card was returned.'