The 2013 Masters was one of the most intriguing golf tournaments in recent memory. We watched a 14-year old actually make the cut and an Australian win it all for the very first time.
However, one of the biggest stories of the entire weekend had nothing to do with either Guan Tianlang or Adam Scott.
Surprise: America was riveted by a situation involving Tiger Woods, probably the only golfer most folks country wide have ever heard of.
On the 15th hole, Tiger took a drop ball that would live on in infamy. The fact that Woods was nearly disqualified and eventually assessed a two-stroke penalty was one thing, however, the refereeing itself was completely another.
The rest of the nation could not believe some guy on his couch at home was able to get in touch with a Masters official and then manage to get one of the greatest in the history of the game penalized.
Who was this person? Was it just some punk sitting at home all day and night looking for ways to hate on famous people such as Tiger? How did he call up the Tournament in the first place?
As it turns out, the caller was not simply some nobody — it was Champions Tour golfer David Eger. Here’s what Eger told Sports Illustrated about what he saw while watching at home like the rest of us:
“I could see there was a divot — not a divot, a divot hole — when he played the shot the second time that was not there the first time. I played it again and again. I could see that the fairway was spotless the first time he played the shot and there was that divot hole, maybe three or four feet in front of where he played after the drop.”
At that point, Eger called his friend Mickey Bradley, who was working as one of the rules officials at Augusta. What happened next, as well as how it all actually wound up being for Tiger’s benefit, is something we are leaving to SI to explain:
“[Mickey] Bradley immediately called [competition committee chairman Fred] Ridley and Russell, the veteran PGA Tour administrator who is on the three-man Masters competition committee that is chaired by Ridley, a former U.S. Amateur champion and USGA president. Bradley also forwarded Eger’s text to Russell and Ridley. In his text, Eger wrote that Woods ‘didn’t appear to play by Rule 26-1-a.’ He wrote that he ‘appeared to be 3-4 feet back’ from his divot mark.”
“It should be noted that Eger’s call saved Woods from disqualification, because it spurred Ridley’s incorrect interpretation, which was challenged by Woods’s own comments to ESPN, which enabled Ridley to invoke rule 33-7, the one that allows wrongs to be righted.
Let’s recap: David Eger, a Champions Tour golfer, called Mickey Bradley, an official, who called Fred Ridley about the fact that Tiger failed to comply with Rule 26-1-a (doesn’t everyone know Rule 26-1-a? Sheesh).
At that point, Ridley interpreted everything incorrectly, so instead of disqualifying Woods, the superstar was assessed the two-stroke penalty.
So there you have it, the story behind how Tiger Woods’ infamous drop ball penalty was spotted and assessed.