Masters officials first became aware that Tiger Woods may have taken an illegal drop at the Masters after they were tipped off by a television viewer.
Now, thanks to an article by Michael Bamberger of Sports Illustrated, we know that that viewer was Champions tour golfer David Eger.
Eger had good intentions in reporting the violation.
He noticed the funky drop on TV, and immediately called a rules official on the phone so that they could assess the penalty before Woods signed an incorrect scorecard — which would have resulted in disqualification.
Masters rules officials reviewed the tape after being tipped off by Eger, but initially ruled that Tiger hadn’t committed a violation.
It was only after Tiger mentioned that he moved his shot back a few yards in a post-round ESPN interview that the rules officials went back and hit him with a two-stroke penalty.
In a sense, Eger actually saved Tiger from disqualification.
Masters officials said at the time that Tiger wasn’t disqualified because they reviewed the drop during the round and initially decided it wasn’t a violation. If Eger never called, they might not have reviewed the tape until after Tiger’s round, and he conceivably could have been disqualified.
But on the other hand, if Eger never called in the violation, who knows if a penalty would have been assessed at all.
Bamberger mentions that there was “online chatter” at 11 p.m. Friday night about the drop independent of Eger’s phone call. But who knows if that would have been enough to make the Masters rules officials actually go back, look at the video, and retroactively disqualify Tiger.
The penalty moved Tiger from the top of the leaderboard to the middle of the pack, created an enormous controversy, and ultimately doomed any chance he had to win the tournament.
Eger is a 61-year-old golf lifer who has made $7 million in his career, according to the PGA website. He’s active on the Champions Tour, playing seven events so far this year.
Robert Laberge/Getty Images
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