Phantom Fan Confuses Tiger Woods' Nike Ball For A Foul Ball

CHARLOTTE, NC - MAY 04: Tiger Woods of the United States hits his tee shot on the 11th hole during the second round of the Wells Fargo Championship at the Quail Hollow Club on May 4, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Tiger Woods fouls one long and deep but gets away without a penalty.

You know how, if you’re at a major league baseball game and someone hits a foul ball into the stands you get to keep the precious cowhide? Thing is, it doesn’t work that way in golf, but that apparently didn’t stop a phantom golf fan from squirreling away a white, dimpled Nike One Tour D that Tiger Woods hit into the jungle on his approach to the fifth green at Quail Hollow Club on Friday.

The result: Woods got to take a free drop instead of the one-stroke penalty a lost golf ball would have cost him, according to Rule 27.1 of the Rules of Golf.

Here’s what happened, according to the Twitter accounts of those on the scene: Woods hooked his 260-yard approach to the par-5 fifth (his 14th of the day since he started on No. 10) into the woods, where it hit a tree and fell to the ground. Then things got dicey.

After conferring with several fans on the scene, apparently, PGA Tour rules officials determined that the ball landed in a clearing. Since no one among the roughly nine million citizens of Charlotte, N.C., comprising the search party could find it, however, the officials ruled that someone must have picked it up and headed straight to eBay with the lucky catch.

After taking a free drop, Woods got his third shot to the green and two-putted for par.

Just another ho-hum day at the office for the former No. 1, who, despite the kindness of strangers, may not make it to the weekend. The projected cut line was 1-under, and Woods was even-par with two holes to play.

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