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Players Championship 2019: Brandel Chamblee explains the tournament-saving drop Tiger Woods could have taken

March 16, 2019

In a recent Golf Digest story, PGA Tour pros and caddies gave their thoughts on re-teeing or playing from the drop area after finding the water on TPC Sawgrass' 17th hole. Neither is a fun option, particularly for a player having to gather himself after taking a penalty that will undoubtedly be, um, splashed across NBC/Golf Channel's coverage. But what if we told you there's a little-known third option? And it's one that could have potentially saved Tiger Woods' tournament chances on Friday.

Long after Woods carded a second-round 71 that included a disastrous quadruple bogey on the infamous par 3, Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee, David Duval, and Frank Nobilo broke down a different drop Tiger could have taken. Since his ball landed on the green and rolled through an area marked with a yellow penalty area line before trickling into the pond, Woods could have played his third shot from the walkway that leads to the island green. And he could have walked away making a much, much better score than 7.

Although, usually this option would make for a similarly tricky shot as the 80-yard pitch Woods opted for, with a back-center pin, Chamblee explains that Woods could have wound up with about a 30-foot par putt through the fringe. Instead, he one-hopped his shot from the drop area into the pond as well, and until 4:30 p.m. on Friday, his two Bridgestones were the only golf balls that got wet on a day when the hole played easy to a 2.92 stroke average. Anyway, here's the late Friday segment from Golf Channel's Live From:

And here's a photo Chamblee posted of the potential par putt Woods could have had:

In the clip, Duval says he reached out to Tiger and that he told him he wasn't aware of that option. Ouch. Within two shots of the lead at the time, Tiger tumbled off the leader board and will enter the weekend nine shots behind leaders Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood.

Although Woods is known to have a great grasp of golf's rules, it's not the first time he's made a mistake with a drop. After ricocheting his approach off the flagstick and into the water on the 15th hole at the 2013 Masters, Woods took an illegal drop from farther back in the 15th fairway, something that was only confirmed by Woods talking about his decision after. He was eventually assessed a two-stroke penalty, although many, including Chamblee, thought Woods should withdrawn or been disqualified.

You could also argue that a golfer of Woods' skill still would have preferred the 80-yard pitch from a good angle to a putt/chip from the walkway. However, it's hard to argue the latter would have at least limited the damage since it would have made finding the water for a second time unlikely.

Instead, that's exactly what Woods did, making the only "other" of the day on the treacherous hole. After his round, Woods told GOLFTV that anyone who makes the cut at the Players has a chance to win. Perhaps, but he'd have to like his chances a lot more more if he'd taken two, three, or even four shots less to play his first 36 holes—or rather, one hole in particular.