Tiger Woods Gets Away With A Bad Drop On Hole 14 During Final Round of The PLAYERS Championship- How In the Name of HD TV Did We Let This Happen…Again?!

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, nor do I wear tinfoil on my head.  Never has the thought of zapping myself with some wannabe time machine like Uncle Rico or Napoleon ever seemed tempting.  Ok, now that I’ve got that out of the way, onto some straight up facts.

Tiger Woods took a bad drop on the 14th hole on Sunday during the final round of the PLAYERS Championship, and there’s plenty of evidence to prove it.  Yep, I’m getting just as sick of this dropgate garbage as you are, but when it’s affecting the trophy hoisting outcomes of tournaments, it deserves to be dissected.

Tiger arrived to the 14th tee at -14 for the tourney with a two stroke lead, and was seemingly close to assuming the typical I-dare-you-to-catch-me role that he plays so well.  Except that Tiger 3.0 is different- he doesn’t run away and hide, he is human and the what-was-that errant shots seemingly will come out of nowhere at any given time.

Case in point was this tee shot on 14- a steep, chunk, pull, sky which left the clubface dead left and splashed a good 30 feet out into the water.  Since it never crossed land past the end of the tee boxes, a drop just 100 yards or so up from him was what stood between him and trying to scramble away from his nemesis hole with a double bogey…except that apparently he and playing partner Casey Wittenberg felt differently.

The rules state that Tiger’s drop should’ve been taken from the last point at which his ball “crossed the margin of the hazard,” which since it never crossed land past the front point of the last tee box, meant just 100 yards or so in front of him.  The issue is that Tiger didn’t even watch his tee shot, as he turned away in disgust of his flailing floating soon-to-be-wet ball, so he couldn’t possibly have known its last point in which it crossed the hazard line (see the 1:35 mark in the video below).

Since Tiger didn’t even watch, it should’ve been up to his playing partner Casey Wittenberg to determine on where to drop.  Following the round, Casey was quoted as saying, “I saw it perfectly off the tee.  I told him exactly where I thought it crossed, and we all agreed, so he’s definitely great on that.  There is no doubt, guys.  The ball crossed where he dropped.”  He also went on to say, “Tiger agreed to give me 10% of his winnings and a night on the slopes with Lindsey for making up that phantom drop point.”  Ok, kidding on that last part of course, but it’s a bit curious how matter of fact Casey was when video evidence shows so clearly otherwise.

Enter this YouTube video by a guy named John Ziegler.  Again, not to beat this dropgate stuff to death, but the camera doesn’t lie and facts are facts.  After reliving the scene again, it’s very clear that this drop is bogus’ first cousin.

As we saw on tv yesterday and as you’ll see in the video, Tiger’s drop left him with 253 yards to the hole, which simple math tells us is 212 yards out from the tee on the 465 yard par 4.  As you’ll hear John say in the video, that just doesn’t make sense.  Tiger’s shot was a pull sky hook, which never had a chance to find dry land once it left the clubface.  You’ll hear this very apparent by NBC’s Mark Rolfing’s call as he clearly condemns the water to be the ball’s final destination nearly immediately after Tiger makes contact.  You’ll also hear both Rolfing and fellow announcer Peter Jacobsen indicate how the ball never crossed land beyond the tee boxes in front of Tiger, meaning a drop well back would be ensuing….but then just moments later, you’ll hear Rolfing completely flip-flop his stance on the drop (he must’ve been taking a note from Nick Faldo’s playbook).

Given the steep and descending contact that Tiger made with the ball, a ball flight of 212 yards semi-straight over land, but then an ensuing violent turn left straight into the water would’ve been straight up impossible.  Tiger wasn’t playing with one of those range balls that has three cracks in it, you know, where you can hit a draw and a fade in the same shot.  Also, this isn’t the famous Seinfeld episode where that one magic loogie went from Keith Hernandez’s mouth, off Newman’s cheek then taking a “mid-air left turn” onto Kramer’s face (all-time classic scene btw).

Sorry folks, this is real life, with millions of dollars, FedEx Cup Points, Tour cards and some serious PLAYERS crystal on the line.  The blimp’s camera view clearly shows that the ball wasn’t even remotely close to crossing land at any point after the tee boxes, and a drop over 100 yards back from where it entered the water was the right play.

Ultimately, Tiger went on to make a double bogey 6 on the hole to fall back into a tie for the lead at -12, and of course ultimately won the tournament by two strokes at -13.  It’s quite likely that Tiger would’ve made the same score of double bogey even with a proper drop and would’ve probably won the tournament anyway, but that’s not the point.  The point of this is that twice in a row in consecutive “major” events, the #1 player in the world got away with taking a faulty drop right before our very eyes.  How in the name of HD TV and Twitter did we possibly let this happen….again?!

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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