World’s No 1 golfer Tiger Woods has been given a two-stroke penalty at the Masters in Augusta, avoiding the threat of disqualification.
Tiger Woods, 37, said his second-round drop at the 15th was taken “two yards away” from the original position, which should have incurred a two-stroke penalty rather than the one for finding water.
That meant the golfer signed an incorrect scorecard, for which the penalty is usually disqualification.
Tiger Woods said on Saturday he was unaware at the time he had violated any rules.
He started his third round on one under, five behind leader Jason Day.
The US Golf Association rule 26-1a states that a player must take their drop “as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played”.
After being alerted by a television viewer to a possible breach of that rule, Masters officials decided there was no case for Tiger Woods to answer.
After the golfer revealed in his post-round news conference that he had dropped the ball away from its original position, officials revisited the issue.
After meeting Tiger Woods on Saturday the officials decided to apply a recent reinterpretation of the rules,meaning that rather than disqualifying the four-time Masters winner they would only levy a two-shot penalty.
The amendment was made to stop players from being disqualified for signing the wrong scorecard when television pictures later showed they had unknowingly moved the ball.
Fred Ridley, chairman of the competition committee, said: “After meeting with the player, it was determined that he had violated Rule 26 and he was assessed a two-stroke penalty.
“The penalty of disqualification was waived by the Committee under Rule 33 as the Committee had previously reviewed the information and made its initial determination prior to the finish of the player’s round.”
Before beginning his third round, Tiger Woods said he accepted the penalty.
“At hole #15, I took a drop that I thought was correct and in accordance with the rules. I was unaware at that time I had violated any rules,” he tweeted.
“I didn’t know I had taken an incorrect drop prior to signing my scorecard. Subsequently, I met with the Masters Committee Saturday morning and was advised they had reviewed the incident prior to the completion of my round.
“Their initial determination was that there was no violation, but they had additional concerns based on my post-round interview.
“After discussing the situation with them this morning, I was assessed a two-shot penalty. I understand and accept the penalty and respect the Committee’s decision.”
Tiger Woods, who at one stage shared the lead with Day on Friday, was unlucky to find trouble at the 15th when his approach hit the pin and rolled back into the water.
He returned to where he played the original stroke, eventually carding a six at the par-five hole, before revealing in his post-round news conference that he may have dropped the ball further away than permitted.
“I went down to the drop area, that wasn’t going to be a good spot,” he said.
“And it was a little bit wet. So it was muddy and not a good spot to drop.
“So I went back to where I played it from, but I went two yards further back.”
Even though Tiger Woods was able to continue his quest for a fifth Green Jacket, three-time Masters champion Nick Faldo believes the American should have disqualified himself from the tournament.