AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods was assessed a two-shot penalty this morning for an illegal drop he took on the 15th hole in the second round, but he was not disqualified from the Masters because of a new rule that was implemented last year.
The penalty means that Woods, the world's No. 1 player, will be five shots from the lead held by Jason Day, not three, when he tees off this afternoon in the third round at the Augusta National Golf Club.
According to a statement from Fred Ridley, chairman of the competition committee at the Masters, Woods was determined to have taken a bad drop for his fifth shot on the par-5 hole after listening to him discuss the shot on a television interview after his round.
After receiving a call from a television viewer, Masters officials reviewed video of the shot while Woods was playing the 18th hole. At the time, the competition committee decided Woods complied with the rules and did not commit an infraction.
"After he signed his scorecard, and in a television interview subsequent to the round, the player stated that he played further from the point than where he had played his third shot," Ridley said in a statement. "Such action would constitute playing from the wrong place.
"The subsequent information provided by the player's interview after he had completed play warranted further review and discussion with him this morning. After meeting with the player, it was determined he had violated Rule 26 and he was assessed a two-stroke penalty.
"The penalty of disqualification was waived by the committee under Rule 33 as the Committee had previously reviewed the information and made its initial determination prior to the finish of the player's round."
Woods benefitted from a new rule that was implemented last year by the United States Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, allowing players who learn of a violation after they have signed their scorecard to be penalized but not disqualified.
That rule was revised mainly to protect players who are deemed to have committed an infraction only after an incident is reviewed on replay with the aid of high definition. In those instances, the player is unaware he has violated a rule and the penalty is not discovered until after he has signed his scorecard.
The rule was put into effect after an incident at the 2011 Abu Dhabi Championship in which Padraig Harrington, after an opening-round 65, was disqualified because he failed to replace a ball that had moved a fraction of an inch when he picked up his marker.
The violation was detected only by using super-slow motion replay. Harrington was assessed a two-shot penalty and disqualified for signing for the wrong score.
Several golf commentators have already called for Woods to withdraw from the Masters, including three-time Masters champion Nick Faldo.
Faldo and the Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee said the new rule is for players who are unaware an infraction might have occurred. They claim Woods was aware of his situation and should have known the rules in that instance.
Despite the penalty that changed Woods' total score to 1-under 143, Masters officials announced he will remain in his original pairing with Gonzalo Fernandez-Gastano of Spain today.
The penalty occurred on the 15th hole after Woods' third shot to the 530-yard par-5 hit the flag stick and caromed back into the pond that fronts the green.
During a post-round interview with Tom Rinaldi on CBS, Woods discussed the shot and his options for taking a drop. That's when he revealed he made his drop beyond the point of his third shot.
According to Rule 26, a player has to "play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played."
According to the rule, Woods had the option of playing his fifth shot from a different spot, so long as he kept "the point at which his original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped."
Woods decided against that option and told Rinaldi, "So I went back to where I played it from, but I went 2 yards further back and I took, tried to take 2 yards off the shot of what I felt I hit."
Gerry Dulac: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @gerrydulac