It was all going swimmingly for Tiger Woods on Friday at the Hero World Challenge. He was five under par heading to the 18th tee on a beautiful day in the Bahamas, cruising around the course, giving himself birdie looks on virtually every hole.
Then things got messy.
When all was said and done, he made a double-bogey 6 on 18 and had to settle for a three-under 69. He is one under for the tournament, nine back of Jon Rahm's and Henrik Stenson's lead, in a tie for 14th in this 18-man event. But it could well have been one shot worse.
Woods blocked his tee shot on 18 into a bush right of the fairway and decided to hit his second shot from his knees rather than take an unplayable.
He appeared to successfully hit the ball back into play, but a slow-motion replay suggested Woods may have dragged rather than hit the ball, which is against Rule 14-1a:
The ball must be fairly struck at with the head of the club and must not be pushed, scraped or spooned.
Woods proceeded with the hole, eventually taking four shots after the maybe-double hit for a double-bogey 6. After holing out on the final green, he headed into the scorer's tent for a ruling.
After a 20-plus minute deliberation, Tour officials determined that there would be no penalty. Even if Woods did make contact with the ball twice or drag it, as he appeared to, precedent has established that the violation must be discernible to the naked eye in order to warrant a penalty. If it's only visible on super slow-mo, high-definition replays, there shall be no penalty.
"We don't have a rules official watching every shot and it makes this situation difficult," Woods told assembled reporters after the round. He did admit to hitting the ball twice.
It was indeed a double-bogey 6, his second "other" of the week—Woods made a triple-bogey 6 on the par-3 12th on Thursday.
Here's what PGA Tour rules official Mark Russell had to say about the ordeal, citing rule 34-3/10, which deals with Limitations on Use of Video Evidence.
Ironically, under the new rules that go into effect on Jan. 1, there is no penalty for a double hit. Had this happened 32 days later, everyone would have saved about a half hour.
Woods sits at two under for the tournament, as a rough putting day saw him post a one-over 73 on Thursday. He was seven back of the leaders when he finally signed his scorecard.
The putting struggles continued in the second round, as Woods missed four birdie efforts inside 10 feet. But Woods drove the ball well for the second straight day and was sharper with his iron play; consequently, he managed to birdie four of the five par 5s at Albany.
"Today I hit it like I normally do," Woods said. "I could have putted like I normally do it could have been 8, 9 under."
Woods will begin his third round at 11:49 a.m. EST on Saturday, alongside Bryson DeChambeau. Those two played foursomes together on Saturday at the Ryder Cup, losing 5&4 to Europe's star pairing of Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood.