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Tiger Woods responds to two shot penalty at the Masters

"At hole #15, I took a drop that I thought was correct and in accordance with the rules. I was unaware at that time I had violated any rules. I didn't know I had taken an incorrect drop prior to signing my scorecard. Subsequently, I met with the Masters Committee Saturday morning.. and was advised they had reviewed the incident prior to the completion of my round. Their initial determination... was that there was no violation, but they had additional concerns based on my post-round interview. After discussing the situation... ...with them this morning, I was assessed a two-shot penalty. I understand and accept the penalty and respect the Committees' decision." At least he's still in the tournament. Woods got a reprieve at the Masters when he was given a two-shot penalty for a bad drop but avoided a more serious sanction — disqualification. The decision stirred up plenty of debate on social media, with some fellow golfers claiming Woods got special treatment — especially coming one day after 14-year-old Guan Tianlang was penalized one shot for slow play, which nearly caused him to miss the cut. "I think he should WD (withdraw). He took a drop to gain an advantage," David Duval, once Woods' top rival, wrote on Twitter. "I guess Tiger is BIGGER than golf. Any other person in the world gets DQ'd. Gotta keep those TV ratings going right?" tweeted Kyle Thompson, who plays on a lower-level tour. Hunter Mahan, who missed the Masters cut, praised the decision. "I like this ruling because he took an illegal drop but no official brought it to his (attention," Mahan tweeted. Beyond dispute, the penalty made it harder for Woods to win his fifth green jacket. Instead of starting out Saturday's third round three strokes off the lead, he faced a five-shot deficit. Jason Day was the leader at 6-under 138, one stroke ahead of Fred Couples and Marc Leishman. Seventeen players were within four strokes of the lead on what already figured to be a wild weekend, even before the stunning decision over Woods' drop during the second round at the par-5 15th hole. The problem began after Woods' third shot hit the flag stick and ricocheted back into the water. He took his penalty drop two yards behind where he hit the original shot, which was a rules violation. After a call from a television viewer, Augusta National reviewed the drop before Woods signed his card and found nothing wrong. Woods later said that he was trying to drop it behind the original spot. His interview prompted the club to review it again and Woods was given a two-shot penalty. That gave Woods a 1-over 73 instead of a 71 and a 143 total. But club officials did not disqualify Woods for signing an incorrect scorecard under a new rule — announced at the Masters two years ago — that allows a player to stay in the tournament if a rules dispute was based on television evidence. The decision grabbed more attention than any shot so far at this Masters. Woods not only is the No. 1 player and golf's biggest star, he had won two straight tournaments coming into the Masters. He was the overwhelming favorite to win, ending a five-year drought in the majors, and capture the green jacket for the first time since 2005. While the violation was apparent, Augusta National took the blame by saying its rules committee reviewed a video before Woods finished his round Friday and determined the drop was within the rules. The club said a television viewer prompted the review. Golf is the only sport where TV viewers act as rules officials. If they see a violation and it turns out to be true, a player must be penalized. Woods, however, indicted himself by explaining how he took the drop. "I went back to where I played it from, but went two yards further back and I tried to take two yards off the shot of what I felt I hit," Woods said Friday after he signed for a 71. "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 four (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. Rules 26-1 says that if a player chooses to go back to his original spot, the ball should be dropped as "nearly as possible" to the spot where it was last played. Photos and video shows his ball dropped at least a yard behind his previous divot. "After meeting with the player, it was determined that he had violated Rule 26, and he was assessed a two-stroke penalty," Fred Ridley, chairman of the Masters' competition committees, said in a statement. He said the penalty of disqualification was waived under Rule 33 because the committee "had previously reviewed the information and made its initial determination prior to the finish of the player's round." Rule 33 states that disqualification can be waived at the committee's discretion. However, a decision that accompanies this rule says that the committee would not be justified to waive the DQ if it was a result of the player's ignorance of the rules or if he could have reasonably discovered his mistake before signing his scorecard. After walking off the course Friday, Woods complained that he actually played much better than his score indicated. Little did he know his score would get even worse. Day, a runner-up at the Masters two years ago, can be one of the most exciting players in golf when his game is on, and he was firing at flags from everywhere Friday. Even from the pine straw under the trees on the dangerous 11th, the Aussie took dead aim at the pin and set up a rare birdie to join the leaders. His only blunder was hitting into the water short of the 12th, though he still managed to escape with bogey, and then he fired a 4-wood low enough to stay below the trees and avoid the wind on the 13th, setting up a two-putt birdie. "My favorite tournament of the year," Day said. "I love this place." He was cognizant of the guys behind him, though just as much burden comes from trying to be the first Australian in a green jacket. "Obviously, there's a lot of pressure on my shoulders, being from Australia and no Australian has ever won the event," Day said. "They have been very, very close, but I've just got to try to get that out of my mind and just plug away." Couples, who shared the 36-hole lead last year at the Masters, birdied the 18th hole for a 71 and will play in the final group with Day on Saturday. Tied with unheralded Marc Leishman at 139, the 53-year-old Couples was asked what he might do if he becomes golf's oldest major champion? "I'm going to quit when I win this thing," he quipped. "It's probably not ever going to happen, but I'm going to retire." Former Masters champion Angel Cabrera birdied five of his last six holes for a 69 and was in the group two shots behind, along with former U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk (71) and Brandt Snedeker (70). There were five players at 141, including Adam Scott (72), Lee Westwood (71) and Justin Rose (71). Still in the mix was Rory McIlroy, who turned his fortunes around with a 5-wood from about 275 yards that set up a short eagle putt. He added three more birdies on the back nine and had a 70, leaving him only four shots out of the lead going into the weekend.

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  • A national group is speaking out about Norman High School apparently violating the separation of church and state before a football game. The group Freedom From Religion Foundation claims they have received a complaint from a parent stating the football team and coaches prayed before a game. Chris Line is an attorney for the group and says, 'There could be a member on the team who doesn't agree with this Christian prayer that goes on, and they're not going to speak out about it.' School officials tell us they are looking into the complaint. Do you think the school should get in trouble if this is true?
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David McKinley (R-WV), who made the case for historic preservation tax credits, which were eradicated by the House GOP tax reform bill. “Without the credit, projects that transform communities in all 50 states, from West Virginia to Texas, to Wisconsin, simply will not happen,” McKinley said on the House floor, as he asked for Brady’s word that he would help reverse the decision. That didn’t happen. “I commit to working with him and continuing to work with him on this issue because I know the importance of it,” Brady responded, making sure not to guarantee anything in some of these floor exchanges. For Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), a staunch advocate of the GOP bill, he asked the Chairman of the House Ways and Means to do more in terms of tax help for the people of Puerto Rico, whose island was devastated by Hurricane Maria. “I look forward to working with you on ideas to best serve the people of this island,” said Rep. 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Brady said he would try. “Mr. Speaker, we will work together for a mutually accepted solution to make sure we exempt work colleges to use their endowments to provide tuition-free education,” the panel chairman responded. For Rep. Don Young (R-AK), the problem he brought to the House floor was under the heading of unintended consequences, as the GOP tax bill would subject native settlement trusts in Alaska to a higher rate of taxation. “This would make it more difficult for Alaska Native Settlement Trusts to provide long-term benefits to Alaska Natives,” Young said on the House floor, asking Brady to include provisions of a bill to remedy that and more. Unlike some of the other requests, Brady acknowledged that the GOP tax bill would “unintentionally” change the tax rate for the Alaskan settlements, agreeing to focus on this in conference as we finalize individual rate structures between the House and the Senate.” Others weren’t so lucky to get a guarantee of action, as they pressed for changes in maybe the most controversial part of the GOP plan, which limits a deduction for state and local taxes. “I am concerned about its impact on some of my constituents in Maryland who pay high state and local income taxes,” said Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), the only Republican member of the House from that state, which would be one of the biggest losers on the SALT issue. That subject also drew two California Republicans to make the same appeal to Brady later in the debate; Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA) and Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA) echoed the concerns of Harris – all of them got a murky assurance of help. “I am happy to commit to working with both of them to ensure we reach a positive outcome for their constituents and families as we reconcile our differences with the Senate,” Brady said, making no promises. Other Republicans brought up education, and a provision in the GOP tax reform bill that would hinder colleges and universities from providing tax free tuition waivers and reimbursements, a matter that has drawn more and more attention in recent days. Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) – whose district includes Dayton University – and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) – whose district includes the University of Illinois – both appealed to Brady to make a change. “I believe that an unintended consequence of this bill would hinder middle class Americans pursuing a higher education degree in an attempt to better their lives,” Turner said. “I am worried it is going to have an impact on the custodians and the assistants in the Registrar’s Office who are just working at these institutions to be able to send their son or daughter to college,” said Davis. There was no guarantee that the provision would be changed. “I have a keen interest in this issue,” Brady told Turner and Davis. “I will work with you toward a positive solution on tuition assistance in conference with the Senate.” Democrats noted the exchanges on both days of the House tax reform debate, arguing that it showed off the haphazard nature of how the bill was put together. “I also was intrigued by the colloquy where Members came to ask the leadership if they will work with them to take out egregious elements of this tax proposal,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI). “We get this sort of, “Yes, I will work with the gentleman,” answer,” Kildee added, raising his voice on the floor. “Why did you put it in in the first place?” Kildee yelled. “Why are you cutting historic tax credits in the first place? Why did you put it in in the first place? You just wrote the bill. You just wrote it,” he said. 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