Woods escapes penalty despite 'double hitting' ball

NASSAU (Bahamas) • As the football world tries its best to implement the video assistant referee to make sure wrong decisions are corrected, golfers are largely given the benefit of the doubt.

On Friday, Tiger Woods avoided a penalty for "double hitting" the ball in the second round of the Hero World Challenge - thanks to the rule limiting the use of enhanced video to review possible infractions.

Slow-motion, high-definition television replays showed his club making contact with the ball at least twice as he scooped it out of a bush on the final hole at Albany in the Bahamas.

Under a rule implemented last year, however, a penalty is not assessed if such an infraction is visible only in slow-motion replays.

"In slow motion I did hit it twice... Under high def you can see the ball did hit the club face twice, but in real time I didn't feel that at all," said the 14-time Major champion after shooting 69 for a two-under 142 total. He trails second-round leaders Jon Rahm (63) and Henrik Stenson (66) by eight strokes.

PGA Tour rules official Mark Watson confirmed that Woods was cleared of any rule breach under golf's "limitations on use of video evidence" policy, which came into effect in May last year.

"Basically, it says if the player did not know that he did that and the only way you can tell that is by using this type of slow-motion technology, he's exempt from the rules, so there's no penalty," he said.

"Looking at it in the regular speed on a high-definition television, you couldn't tell that at all, but when you slowed it down to ultraslow motion high-definition television, you could see where (the ball) did stay on the club face quite a bit of time and it looked like he might have hit it twice, but there's no way he could tell that."

Had the incident occurred before May last year, Woods would have received a one-stroke penalty.

That was when the sport's governing bodies, the United States Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient, changed a rule in response to improvements in video technology that were leading to penalties that in previous eras would have been avoided.

From Jan 1, when revisions of the rule book will be implemented, there will also be no penalty for accidentally hitting a ball more than once on a single stroke.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 02, 2018, with the headline 'Woods escapes penalty despite 'double hitting' ball'. Print Edition | Subscribe