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Saturday, September 14, 2013
Tiger questions 2nd-round penalty

By Bob Harig
ESPN.com

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Tiger Woods did his best Saturday to move on from another costly rules violation, but admitted the task was more difficult because he felt he was unjustly penalized following Friday's second round of the BMW Championship.

Woods I was pretty hot because I felt like nothing happened. I felt like the ball oscillated, and that was it. I played the rest of the round grinding my tail off to get myself back in the tournament and then go from 5 to 7 behind, that was tough.

-- Tiger Woods

Woods shot a 5-under-par 66 in the third round at Conway Farms Golf Club, but the two-shot penalty he received for an incident that occurred on the first hole Friday may ultimately prove large. He trails tournament leader Jim Furyk by four strokes.

"I was pretty hot because I felt like nothing happened," Woods said Saturday in his first comments about the situation. "I felt like the ball oscillated, and that was it. I played the rest of the round grinding my tail off to get myself back in the tournament and then go from 5 to 7 behind, that was tough.

"They replayed it again and again and again, and I felt the same way."

Woods was assessed a two-shot penalty because it was deemed by Slugger White, vice president of competition at the PGA Tour, that Woods caused his ball to move when attempting to remove debris near it behind the first green.

According to Rule 18-2a., if a player causes his ball to move, it's a one-stroke penalty. However, because Woods did not return the ball to its original position, he was assessed another stroke.

Woods said he reviewed the video several times with White and another PGA Tour official, Tyler Dennis, and still felt the ball did not move from its position.

"After seeing the video I thought the ball just oscillated, and I thought that was it," he said. "I thought that was the end of story. But they saw otherwise."

White, a longtime PGA Tour rules official, said, "It's pretty clear the ball moved."

Typically in rules disputes, the word of the player is taken. But in this case, the video, to White, showed an infraction.

Woods had trouble on the hole as it was Friday, hitting his ball over the green and into a wooded area. He made a double-bogey 6 that turned into an 8 after the penalty. It meant a 72 instead of a 70 and a seven-shot deficit instead of 5 entering Saturday's third round.

The infraction was filmed by a PGA Tour Entertainment production crew, which passed along the footage to officials. Woods was notified after his round Friday and said he tried to make his case to White.

"We had a very good discussion, and we'll end it at that," Woods said.

It was the third time this year that Woods was penalized for a rules infraction. In each of the first two cases, he agreed with the assessment.

In January at the Abu Dhabi Championship, Woods believed he was entitled to relief due to an embedded ball during the second round; the ball was underneath foliage in a sandy area, and any ball embedded in sand is not entitled to a free drop. Woods could have played it or taken a one-stroke unplayable lie penalty. But after taking a drop, he received a two-stroke penalty and missed the cut by one shot.

At the Masters, he was involved in a huge rules issue when his third shot during the second round hit the flagstick at the 15th hole and caromed back into the water. Woods elected to play from his original spot, but went too far back in taking a drop. Nobody noticed it at the time, but a former rules official who saw it on television called into Masters officials to say something was amiss. Those officials never alerted Woods that there might be an issue, so he signed his card, and only later after describing the shot did they become concerned that he had made a mistake. That is why they took the unusual, and controversial step, to assess him a two-stroke penalty and not disqualify him. He ended up four strokes behind winner Adam Scott.

"The one at Augusta, after going through it on Saturday morning, yeah, I did take the wrong drop," Woods said. "But yesterday I didn't feel like I did anything, and as I said, I described in there [the scoring area], I moved the pine cone right behind my ball. I feel like the ball oscillated, and I just left. Evidently it wasn't enough."

Woods said he expected there to be no issue.

"No, not at all," he said. "We all have been in the trees before, and things can move and do move, and I felt like I tested it and felt like it just oscillated and stayed in the same position, but evidently it didn't."

For a time, Woods climbed back into contention Saturday, using birdies on six of seven holes in the middle of the round to pull within two shots of the lead. But Woods failed to birdie the par-5 14th -- he had gotten a good kick when his second shot bounced out the gallery -- when he missed a 6-footer. And then he hit his tee shot in the water on the drivable par-4 15th and made bogey.

Woods did roll in a birdie putt at the 18th to shoot his second 66 of the tournament, and when Furyk bogeyed the final hole, it left Woods within four heading into the final round.

Furyk leads by one shot over Steve Stricker, by two over Brandt Snedeker and by three over Zach Johnson. Woods is fifth.

"I had a nice little run to at least get myself in there where I have a chance tomorrow," he said.