Augusta defends not disqualifying Woods

Augusta National has defended a decision not to disqualify Tiger Woods from the 77th Masters.

Fred Ridley, Chairman of the Championship Committee hosted a press conference at 1pm today where he detailed the complete scenario that resulted in the 14-time Major winner being slapped with a two-stroke penalty.

Fred Ridley Fred Ridley

It was revealed a TV viewer had phoned a rules official at Augusta beleiveing Woods had infringed the rules in taking a penalty drop at the par five, 15th hole, and some two yards from where he had played his third shot into the green that then ricocheted off a flagstick and into the water.

It was at 10pm last night Ridley was contacted by CBS TV saying they had problem with Woods actions.

Ridley was having dinner at the time with his family at a rented house for the week and immediately returned to the clubhouse, and along with other committee members, looked at ESPN TV footage of Woods’ post round interview in describing his actions in taking the drop.

Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg was then contacted later last night and arranged for Woods to return to the clubhouse at 8am where the matter was discussed and then lead to a two-stroke penalty.

Fred Ridley, Chairman of the Masters Championship Committee says disqualifying Tiger Woods was not an issue.

However Ridley revealed the Masters committee had considered Woods actions soon after his drop at 15 and thought he had not breached the rules, and thus nothing was said to Woods when he ended his round.

It was only in Ridley listening to Woods’ post round comments that he was called back to Augusta National and a penalty imposed.

But then it was put to Ridley that Woods ‘knowingly violated a rule’, he responded: “I think that’s something that you need to ask him (Woods). I think in is statement he said that was not the case, that he fully intended to comply with the rule and play from the spot that he played his prior shot.

“I didn’t see anything and he didn’t tell me anything that would lead me to believe that he knowingly violated the rule.”

And Ridley remarked it was based on Woods ‘honest and forthright’ answers to Ridley’s questions that he was not disqualified given the rules committee, in first reviewing the matter, considered that there was no breach of the rule.

“In this case the Committee had made a decision, it’s just that Tiger was not informed of it,” said Ridley. “Whether or not he was informed in my mind was irrelevant. We had made a decision before he finished his round, before he finished his scorecard, and I think he’s entitled to be protected by Rule 33‑7, and that’s our decision, and others agree with us.

“And when Tiger visited the clubhouse this morning the subject of disqualification was not on the table. His candor this morning was clear and it helped up make the right decision.

“We felt it would have be predudicial to Tiger if we disqualified him.”

Ridley also responded that Woods is being shown preferential treatment even though virtually every shot in his career has been filmed on TV as opposed to lesser known players who are not under a similiar microscope.

“Well, I can’t really control what the perception might or might not be,” said Ridley.

“All I can say is that unequivocally this tournament is about integrity. Our founder Bobby Jones was about integrity, and if this had been John Smith from wherever, that he would have gotten the same ruling, because again, it is the right ruling under these circumstances.”