Players seem OK with Woods penalty instead of DQ

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AUGUSTA, GA. (AP) - Tiger Woods still has a chance to win the Masters.

Most of his fellow players seem OK with that.

Woods was assessed a two-stroke penalty Saturday before he went out for the third round of the Masters, a ruling that stirred plenty of debate because of the way it was handled by Augusta National.

Woods could’ve been disqualified for signing an improper scorecard. Instead, he was docked a couple of strokes, bounced back to shoot a 2-under 70, and will go to the final round four strokes behind so-leaders Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera _ still in the running for a fifth green jacket.

Steve Stricker was among those who believe club officials got it right, since they viewed a replay of the improper drop while Woods was still on the course Friday and initially ruled he had done nothing wrong.

Later, Woods conceded in several media interviews that he dropped his ball 2 yards behind the spot of his original shot at the 15th hole, after it ricocheted off the flag stick and into the water in front of the green.

“They addressed it before he actually signed his card, and from what I understand they said go ahead and sign your card,” said Stricker, who was one shot behind Woods. “If they would have come up to him before he signed his card, he would have said, `OK, well, let’s go through it, and you’re right. I did take two steps back, it’s a two-shot penalty, and I signed for two shots higher.’ End of story.”

Lucas Glover and Nick Watney both stressed that Woods would never knowingly violate a rule to gain an advantage.

They, too, felt two strokes was the proper penalty.

“He’s as up-and-up with the rules as anybody,” Glover said. “He’s always been a stickler for the rules and a traditionalist for the game. So am I comfortable with it? Yeah, I’m fine with it because I know they did everything they could to make the right decision.”

Watney agreed.

“I’m sure he feels terrible about it and I believe 100 percent that he didn’t do anything on purpose,” he said. “I’m sure he’ll not do that again ever.”

Defending Masters champion Bubba Watson grumbled about viewers calling in possible infractions they see on television, which is what prompted the initial review of Woods‘ drop. After hearing his post-round comments, officials reviewed the tape again and decided there was an infraction. But, under a new rule designed to address such TV cases, the club decided it would be wrong to disqualify Woods.

Watson said he had to answer for a swing at the 2007 U.S. Open because a viewer accused him of double-hitting the ball.

“Whoever called in was wrong,” he recalled. “The situation made it look like I did something wrong, but I didn’t. So people calling in are making us look bad.”

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