AUGUSTA, Ga. - Tiger Woods made two significant moves Saturday at the Masters - one to stay in the tournament, the other to stay in the hunt.
A day filled with high drama before a shot was struck at Augusta National, ended with Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera tied for the lead, and Woods only four shots back. For a few tense hours in the morning, it was not clear if Woods was going to get a chance to play.
Masters officials discovered late Friday night that Woods had taken a bad drop in the second round and should have added two shots to his score.
Under normal circumstances, he would have been disqualified for signing an incorrect card. Officials took the blame for not alerting Woods to a potential problem - they found nothing wrong at first glance before he signed - and kept him in the tournament with two shots added to his score. Woods was covered under a 2-year-old rule that prevents DQs when a violation is reported by television viewers.
"It certainly was a distraction early," Woods said after three birdies on his last seven holes for a 70. "It happens, and you move on. I was ready to play come game time."
So was Snedeker.
He's been building toward a moment like this for the last year, and he seized his chance on a glorious afternoon with a bogey-free round of 3-under 69.
After opening with 12 pars, he birdied both the par 5s and stuffed his tee shot to 4 feet for birdie on the par-3 16th to take the lead.
Cabrera joined him at 7-under 209 with a 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole, capping off a round in which he twice made bogey on the par 5s.
Woods inadvertently implicated himself Friday during his post-round interview by saying he went back a few yards by design.
Because he saw no problem at first with the drop and let Woods sign his card without talking to him, Fred Ridley, head of the Masters competition committee, said it would have been "grossly unfair to Tiger to have disqualified him." He said the notion of a DQ was "not even on the table."
In a bizarre twist, it was a television viewer's phone call that initiated the penalty and ultimately spared the world's No. 1 player.
The viewer questioned the way Woods took a penalty drop after his wedge into the par-5 15th hole struck the flag stick and bounced back into the water. Woods dropped the ball two yards behind where he had hit his previous shot, a violation.
Woods said after his round: "I went back to where I played it from, but went 2 yards farther back, and I tried to take 2 yards off the shot of what I felt I hit. And that should land me short of the flag and not have it either hit the flag or skip over the back.
"I felt that was going to be the right decision to take off 4 (yards) right there. And I did. It worked out perfectly."
He hit that fifth shot to about 4 feet and made the putt for bogey.
Woods was not disqualified because of a revised rule (Rule 33-7) that allows players to stay in the tournament if a dispute was based on television evidence.
Even though Woods was guilty of not knowing the rules, Augusta National took the blame for not alerting him of a potential violation pointed out by a TV viewer.
Woods arrived at the course at 8 a.m. - nearly six hours before his tee time - to review the video with club officials.
In a statement posted on his Twitter account, Woods said he was unaware he had violated the rule. Players can take a drop as far back as they want on a line from the hole to where it crossed the hazard, unless they choose to hit from the original spot. Then, they are to drop as close as possible to the previous shot.
Ridley, a former U.S. Amateur champion who served two years as USGA president, said Woods was candid about his drop and helped the committee make the right decision in docking him two shots.
Rule 33-7 was revised two years ago to account for TV viewers calling in violations that the players might not know until after they have signed their cards. If no one had called in, Augusta National would have had no reason to review the drop.
Brandt Snedeker 70-70-69-209
Angel Cabrera 71-69-69-209
Adam Scott 69-72-69-210
Marc Leishman 66-73-72-211
Jason Day 70-68-73-211
Matt Kuchar 68-75-69-212
Tim Clark 70-76-67-213
Tiger Woods 70-73-70-213
Jim Furyk 69-71-74-214
Michael Thompson 73-71-79-223
Complete scores / B11