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Tiger Woods backs review of spectator call-ins on rules violations

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Tiger Woods enters the final event in the PGA Tour’s season-ending FedExCup playoff series at the top of the standings and in the glare of the spotlight for the two-stroke penalty he suffered during last week’s BMW Championship.

Sam Greenwood

Tiger Woods, who incurred a two-stroke penalty in the BMW Championship after a video camera zoomed in on his infraction during Friday’s second round at Conway Farms, agrees with PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem that the issue of viewer call-ins affecting players’ scores needs investigation.

Woods, the subject of far more scrutiny than any other player due to his status as the world’s most dominant golfer, stopped short during a Wednesday press conference of complaining about the ever-present spotlight that follows him from the practice area to the 72nd green.

"There’s a lot of cameras around my group and some of the top players," said Woods, who fielded no queries about whether, upon even further review, he still believed his ball did not change position. "I get it from the first time I step on the range ... all the way through, and virtually every shot’s on something."

A PGA Tour Entertainment editor uncovered last week’s breach -- the most recent in a season in which Woods has whiffed on at least four rules -- and proceeded to notify officials of the transgression. In light of the situation involving Woods, who claimed his ball "oscillated" rather than moved, Finchem said in Tuesday’s final "State of the Tour" address for 2013, that his organization would assess the situation, with an emphasis on when to take action on call-ins.

"We’ll probably be taking another harder look at it after we get done with the season," Finchem told reporters gathered for this week’s fourth and final FedExCup playoff game at East Lake, where Woods, atop the FEC standings, is the favorite to win his third cup.

"Is it better to have some sort of limit on it? If you don’t learn about something before X time. All the other sports close their books a little quicker than we do, so to speak," said Finchem.

Woods pointed to the "digital age," with its advent of high-definition TV, as the culprit in the Case of Tiger’s Continuous Controversial Rules Cockups and supported Finchem’s call for further exploration into the matter. He noted that viewers, who are somehow able to locate the tour’s number (1-800-Get-a Life?), pester officials every week, though most of the remote referees’ observations don't make it past the circular file.

"It’s a new age in which there’s a lot of cameras that are around my group, and then some of the top players. I get it from the first time I step on the range on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, all the way through, and virtually every shot’s on something," Woods said. "Some of the top players are getting [intense TV coverage], where most players don’t get it until they’re on the leader groups on Saturday and Sunday.

"It’s just a new age and how we go about it," added Woods. "I think the commissioner was right, the way we’re going to have to have more discussions about it in the future and I think that’s actually happened right now."

No doubt, the world No. 1 shared his opinions in a bit more detail when he confabbed with the commish for almost an hour, according to GolfChannel.com’s Rex Hoggard.

In the meantime, while Woods’ fans and critics line up on opposite sides of the ball about whether the dimpled orb did or didn’t fidget, Finchem and the player’s colleagues weighed in on the most recent of several infractions Tiger has incurred during his five-win 2013 season.

"You’ve got 70-some players playing on Sunday. Seven or eight or 10 of them can win the golf tournament. Eighty-five, 90, 95 percent of the camera time is on those seven or eight players," Finchem said in his remarks. "Is that equitable to everything?"

And while the Associated Press' Doug Ferguson noted that some players ridiculed Woods and turned the word "oscillation" into a "punch line" during the final round of the BMW Championship, several Tour Championship opponents, interviewed as part of Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" on Wednesday, remained in Tiger's corner.

"Tiger, and all the top players, have a little bit more of a microscope put on them because they’re always on TV, they’re always being watched, so that’s unfair, I guess," said Steve Stricker, ranked fifth entering the Tour Championship. "But a player sees it differently sometimes than [how] a TV camera sees it ... Tiger may be looking at the stick that he’s trying to move, he may not see the ball totally like the camera’s going to see it. So it’s always a tough thing."

Dustin Johnson, 28th in FEC points, was adamant that, though he watched the video "like five times," that he "never saw it move, and obviously [Woods] didn’t."

Had Woods witnessed the ball shifting position, "he would have called the penalty on himself. We all would have," Johnson said. "But I watched it and I didn’t see it move."

Matt Kuchar refuted any notion that Woods tried to gain an advantage under the trees off the first hole on Friday. He also noted that it’s Woods, not those unnamed "top players," who’s "under a microscope."

"There’s no getting away with anything," said Kuchar, at No. 4 this week. "It always amazes me, all the different cameras, all the different eyeballs that are out there. I think we all play the game, abide by the rules, and you’re going to get weeded out if you’re not playing by the rules."

To Nick Watney, runner-up to Zach Johnson in Monday’s rain-delayed final round of the BMW Championship, Woods was actually at a disadvantage due to his celebrity.

"Because every single shot is televised," said Watney, 10th in FedExCup points, "it’s really almost unfair."

For Woods, his serial rules boo-boos were just part of life as the planet’s best, and most televised, golfer.

"I can't remember another year in which this has happened like this," he said, "but kind of just the way it's been and the way it goes."

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