Woods, Kaymer get it wrong. Woods misses cut.
It's been a rough start for professional golf. The PGA Tour Hyundai Tournament of Champions needed multiple starts to get the tournament underway. Eventually the tournament was started on Monday and completed with 36 holes on Tuesday to get the minimum 54 holes in to make the tournament official by PGA Tour standards.
This week, the world's top players are in action with many of them overseas in Abu Dhabi. World No. 1 and No. 2, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods were paired together on Thursday and Friday. Tournament organizers were smart to showcase the top two players in the world early and often as they won't be part of the story on the weekend as both McIlroy and Woods missed the cut.
McIroy posted back to back rounds of 75, playing with his new Nike equipment for the first time in competitive action. Woods on the other hand was in position to make the cut at +1 for the 36 holes until European Tour Officials assessed a 2-shot penalty on Woods for taking an improper drop.
Per the local rules sheet distributed to players before the tournament, golf balls found to be embedded in grassy areas were entitled to relief. Golf balls embedded in sandy areas did not entitle the player to relief from an embedded golf ball. On the par 4, 5th hole Woods hit his drive right of the fairway into green brush. After finding his golf ball, Woods called playing partner Martin Kaymer over to confirm whether or not his golf ball was embedded, entitling him to relief. Kaymer agreed with Woods that his ball was in fact embedded and Woods proceeded under the rule. Unfortunately for Woods, the area his ball was located was deemed to be a sandy area and therefore Woods was not entitled to drop the ball free of penalty.
Woods was notified on the 11th hole of the potential infraction, which is customary in competitive golf. As soon as a potential infraction is brought to the attention of the rules official, the rules official will make the player aware and agree to discuss the situation after the round prior to signing his official scorecard.
Interestingly enough, Woods could have opted to take relief under an "unplayable ball" rule which offers the player several options for relief. One of the options is to drop the golf ball no closer to the hole, within 2-club lengths of the golf ball's original position. The drop Woods made under the pretense of an embedded ball relief falls within 2-club lengths and was no closer to the hole. The difference of course was the intent Woods had in taking the drop.
A hot topic in golf is the amount of time it takes to play a round of golf. Pace of play has gotten difficult to control, not only on the PGA Tour and European PGA Tour, but also on golf courses across the country as average Joe's tee it up on Saturday and Sunday. Woods could have requested a Rules Official, who was apparently one hole away from his group at the time. It would have likely taken 10 minutes, give or take a few, for the Official to give Woods counsel on his options. Had Woods called over an Official, he would still be playing on the weekend. Unfortunately for Woods, he elected to proceed under what he and Kaymer believed to be the correct procedure given the circumstances. The error in judgement cost Woods and for that matter, tournament organizers who spent big bucks to attract Tiger to their tournament.