David Eger, a Quail Hollow member, was at his Charlotte home on Friday of Masters week when he noticed Tiger Woods had bogeyed the par-5 15th hole at Augusta National in the second round of the championship.
Eger rewound the broadcast on his digital recorder to see what had happened and, watching the replay, thought Woods had taken an improper drop.
A tournament official for both the PGA Tour and the USGA before becoming a player on the Champions Tour, Eger watched the video a few times then called his friend Mickey Bradley, a PGA Tour rules official working at the Masters.
Eger said the tournament’s competition committee needed to check Woods’ drop before he signed his scorecard after play to determine if he had violated the rules. Bradley then contacted Fred Ridley, chairman of the Masters competition committee.
From there, a firestorm erupted.
“All that happened Saturday morning was the result of them handling it improperly Friday afternoon,” Eger said.
“They got the penalty right but the mechanics of getting there are certainly awkward. It was not the best thing for the player.”
Ridley said later he reviewed the drop before Woods finished his round, determined he was not in violation of any rules and, therefore, not subject to a penalty. Woods signed his scorecard for a 71 with a six at No. 15 and went on.
“I was shocked when Tiger wasn’t in the scoring area for a long time,” Eger said. “He popped out and was doing an interview where he said he’d gone 2 yards back.”
Eger felt there should have been a two-stroke penalty on Woods but none was given, not until Saturday morning, leading to the controversy as to whether Woods should have been disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard.
Woods signed for 71 on Friday but it became a 73 on Saturday morning after Woods met with Masters officials and agreed he had made an improper drop.
“When you get any call, it’s the obligation of the rules committee to investigate it, whether that’s looking at video or interviewing the player or both. You do it,” said Eger, who attended North Carolina and East Tennessse State, according his bio on the PGA Tour web site. “Whether it was Tiger Woods or Joe Schmo, I would have done the same thing.”
“I went to bed Friday night thinking I had done what I could then all hell broke loose Saturday morning.”
Eger, in effect, saved Woods from being disqualified because his call led to the Masters rules committee studying the drop and clearing Woods of wrongdoing.
When the matter was reconsidered later, Rule 33-7 was invoked, keeping Woods in the tournament. Eger said Woods should not have been disqualified because of the way the situation was handled, with the rules committee initially clearing Woods of any rules breach.
“It wasn’t a shining Friday for Fred Ridley and he has at his disposal the best rules officials in golf,” Eger said. “I’m sure he had more resources available to him than I had sitting at home with my digital recorder playing it back. For the head guy not to use all the resources available to him is disappointing.”
Eger said he’s never had a problem with viewers calling in rules violation they see on telecasts and recalls instances when players were made aware of potential violations by rules officials monitoring telecasts.
“I’d say 80 percent of the problem was because it wasn’t handled properly on Friday, maybe 100 percent of the problem,” Eger said.
Ron Green Jr. is senior writer for Global Golf Post (www.globalgolfpost.com) and writes a weekly golf column for the Charlotte Observer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.