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Woods' penalty could have happened to anyone

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – While the two-stroke penalty that cost Tiger Woods a spot in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship weekend field continued to cast a pall over the proceedings on Saturday, the world No. 2’s mishandling of the drop adjacent the fifth hole on Day 2 was hardly a surprise for those whose livelihoods depend on a solid grasp of the Rules of Golf.

“The official came up to us on the 11th hole and said it was a sand area so he was apparently not allowed to take a (free) drop,” said Kaymer, Woods’ playing partner on Friday who quickly reviewed the lie on the fifth hole and confirmed it was a plugged lie and he was entitled to relief without penalty. “I didn’t know about it. He obviously didn’t know about it. It’s never nice.'

After further review by European Tour rules officials, however, they deemed Woods’ drop a violation of Rule 25-2 and he was penalized two strokes to miss the cut by a shot.

As for those who contend Woods should have known the rule it is not a stretch to say he is one of the game’s most knowledgeable when it comes to the Rules of Golf, but the truth is most players are not thoroughly versed in every possible rules contingency.

“We tend to know rules which we have been called out on before. The fact that Tiger did it probably saved someone else two strokes,” Padraig Harrington said. “We’re all responsible for the rules.”

The more compelling question is why Woods, or Kaymer, never considered calling an official for a ruling (there was an official on the fifth hole during the incident who was less than 200 yards away).

When asked if they considered calling in an official to rule on the incident Kaymer didn’t feel there was any need, “No, because it was imbedded we both thought it was a free drop.”

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