Tiger Woods was leading the field by two shots and had command of The Players Championship Sunday afternoon when he reached the 14th tee at TPC Sawgrass. One pop up to short left and an iffy penalty drop later, NBC’s Johnny Miller went berserk over what he believed was another in a continuing series of questionable ball drops by golf’s No. 1 ranked player.
"That Tiger drop was really, really borderline," Miller said after Woods hit his tee shot into the water hazard to the left of the fairway and took a drop (with accompanying penalty stroke after a confab with playing partner Casey Wittenberg and his looper) in a spot that appeared to be more favorable than warranted. "I can't live with myself without saying that."
Seeking to avoid another Masters-like melee after Woods’ improperly dropped a ball during his second round at Augusta, the PGA Tour moved quickly to quash any controversy by issuing a ruling on the matter as Tiger finished up his final round.
"Without definitive evidence, the point where Woods' ball last crossed the lateral water hazard is determined through best judgement by Woods and his fellow competitor," read the tour statement. "If that point later proves to be a wrong point (through television or other means), the player is not penalized by Rule 26-1 given the fact that a competitor would risk incurring a penalty every time he makes an honest judgment as to the point where his ball last crosses a water-hazard margin and that judgment subsequently proves incorrect (Decision 26-1/17)."
Woods addressed the matter with reporters following his round.
"I talked to Casey and the caddie, and we agreed that’s where it crossed," Woods said after winning The Players by two strokes over a trio of players not named Sergio Garcia. "Because I hit a pop-up big high hook, so it started way right and then it went way left. We decided it crossed there, and I played it."
Woods added that there was no point in consulting with a rules official about the issue.
"If they're not there they can't see it," he said, "so there's really no point. The only guys who really know are Casey and his caddie, so that's who we rely on."
Wittenberg backed Tiger up, telling reporters he "saw [the ball] perfectly off the tee.
"I told him exactly where I thought it crossed, and we all agreed, so he's definitely great on that," Wittenberg said. "There is no doubt, guys. The ball crossed where he dropped."
Ziegler, Busbee noted, has made it his life’s work to clear Joe Paterno of any wrongdoing in the Penn State sexual abuse scandal, so there’s that, and now seems obsessed with proving Woods cheated and should have his Players Championship vacated.
"Tiger Woods took a bad drop, the media is in the tank for him, and his victory at the TPC Players Championship should definitely be discredited," Ziegler says in his dramatic narration of "Tiger Woods Took a Bad Drop and the NBC Announcers Proved It."