LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Even after watching video evidence, Tiger Woods still doesn’t think he deserved a two-shot penalty at the BMW Championship.
Woods was docked two shots at the end of his second round when his ball moved ever so slightly behind the first green. Video from a camera man hired by PGA Tour Entertainment showed the golf ball dip down as Woods was removing a twig before playing a shot from the trees.
Woods argued that it only oscillated, returning to its original position. The chief rules official at the PGA Tour determined otherwise.
“As I said, from my vantage point, I thought it just oscillated and that was it,” Woods said Saturday after shooting a 5-under 66 at Conway Farms. “They replayed it again and again and again. And I felt the same way.”
Slugger White, vice president of competition for the PGA Tour, said Woods did not take the penalty easily.
“He was a little disbelieving. How’s that?” White said Friday.
Woods did not argue with that description.
“I was pretty hot because I felt like nothing happened,” Woods said. “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 five to seven behind. That was tough.”
“We had a very good discussion,” he said. “I’ll end it at that.”
The only thing that moved in the third round was Woods’ name up the leaderboard, though not as much as he had hoped. He ran off six birdies in seven holes in the middle of his round and got within two shots of the lead at one point before his momentum stalled. He still moved up eight spots into fifth place, four shots behind Jim Furyk going into the final round of a tournament he has won five times.
And he did it with Sergio Garcia along for the ride.
It was the first time Woods and Garcia played together since their verbal sparring at The Players Championship, won by Woods. Their public spat ended when Garcia jokingly said at a European Tour awards dinner that he would have Woods over for dinner during the U.S. Open and serve fried chicken.
Garcia apologized, though the Spaniard was heckled at the U.S. Open. On that front, it was fairly tame in the suburbs north of Chicago before a loud and large crowd, most of them interested in Woods. There were a few comments, though nothing much different from other golf tournaments in America.
Garcia appeared irritated at someone in the gallery on the 18th hole. Then again, he is developing a reputation for hearing just about everything. Garcia rallied for a 69.
Even as Woods made his move, there were lingering questions about his two-shot penalty.
Woods made double bogey on the first hole Friday. It became a quadruple-bogey 8 with the penalty. It was the third time this year Woods was given a two-shot penalty for a rules violation.
At his first event of the season in Abu Dhabi, he took relief from an imbedded lie in a sandy area covered with vines. It was determined that relief was not allowed in the sand. He was docked two shots before signing his card, and it caused him to miss the cut.
More famous was the incident at the Masters, where he took an improper drop after his shot on the 15th hole in the second round hit the flag and went into the water. Word reached Augusta National from a television viewer — who turned out to be rules expert David Eger — but the club did not bring it to Woods’ attention. It was only after later review, and Woods’ comments that indicated he took an illegal drop, that he was penalized.
He was allowed to stay in the tournament despite signing a wrong scorecard because Augusta National felt it should have asked him before allowing him to sign his card. That decision to waive disqualification is covered under the Rules of Golf.
“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 it in there and I said I moved the pine cone right behind my ball. I feel like the ball oscillated, and I just left it. Evidently, it wasn’t enough.”
Still, this has become a year of rulings for Woods.
“It’s unfortunate that he’s been at the center of this about three times, I think, this year,” Steve Stricker said. “I don’t know why, if it’s just because all the TV is on him all the time or what.”