Tiger Woods was unwilling to ascribe his T4 finish at the Masters to Friday’s ball-drop fiasco that cost him two strokes and nearly got him booted from the tournament.
"Well, we could do that ‘what-if’ in every tournament we lose," Woods told reporters after posting a second consecutive 2-under 70 in Sunday’s finale at Augusta. "We lose more tournaments than we win out here on tour so it's just part of the process and I’ll get back to it."
Woods incurred the penalty and the wrath of Tiger-haters who insisted he recuse himself from the proceedings after he took an illegal drop on the par-5 15th hole during Friday’s second round. The situation, which threw the event into complete chaos from late Friday night through Saturday, involved Woods’ violation, his televised interview in which he more or less admitted he broke the rules, snitches in the form of a couch potato with a remote and an iPhone and CBS’ Masters anchor Jim Nantz, and a come-to-Jesus meeting between Tiger and competition honcho Fred Ridley.
By Sunday, the ordeal had taken a comical turn, when the Augusta Chronicle published two photos of Woods’ wedge shots from the fairway to the 15th green.
My God. The Augusta Chronicle with side-by-side photos that show Tiger dropped in the same spot! twitter.com/StevePoliti/st…— Steve Politi (@StevePoliti) April 14, 2013
His first attempt clanged off the flagstick and into the water, necessitating a penalty stroke and a drop of the ball "as nearly as possible" to the spot of his original shot.
The Chronicle’s conspiracy theory posited that the photo that included circles of several divots on the fairway, proved, according to what Steve Politi termed the "Zapruder film," that Woods actually hit his penalty shot from nearly the same patch of grass as the first one that hit the stick.
This is like the Masters' version of the Zapruder film. Check the grass knoll on 15! Conspiracy!— Steve Politi (@StevePoliti) April 14, 2013
While tourney officials had no access to the Chronicle’s side-by-side shots, they determined, though Woods signed an incorrect scorecard, that a recent so-called "high-def TV" rule protecting players from DQ if they unknowingly breach rules that armchair refs later call them on, he should incur only a two-stroke penalty.
Woods pooh-poohed the notion that the ball-drop snafu played any role in his play going forward that ended in a 5-under score -- just four shots shy of a playoff between Angel Cabrera and eventual winner Adam Scott.
"Not when I’m playing, no. Absolutely not," he said Sunday about whether he thought about the incident on No. 15 during his subsequent rounds. "I’ve got to focus on what I need to do, where I need to place the golf ball, and shoot the lowest score I possibly could at that moment."
Woods also thanked the fans -- er, patrons -- for their backing, especially after the incident.
"They were fantastic," he said about the spectators who crowded the Augusta National fairways hoping for late-inning heroics from the 14-time major champion. "I had so much encouragement out there. They were absolutely incredible.
"Especially yesterday, starting out the day," Woods said about his Saturday afternoon start, several hours after the "Tiger Rule" went into effect. "I couldn’t believe the amount of support I had. Everyone was just trying to get me to shoot a low one and I was very thankful for that."