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Woods gets 2-stroke penalty at Masters, but no DQ
By PAUL NEWBERRY
AUGUSTA, Georgia (AP) Tiger Woods dropped two strokes at the Masters before he even hit a shot on Saturday, and he still has a chance to wear another green jacket.
Woods shot a 2-under 70 in the third round at Augusta National, shaking off a two-stroke penalty assessed before he went out to the first tee. When he walked off the 18th green after sinking a testy par putt, he was four strokes off the lead.
It could have been better. And worse. At least he didn't get disqualified.
Augusta National gave Woods a reprieve, ruling an improper drop on Friday should result in a two-shot penalty instead of getting him kicked out of the tournament.
He said it was the right decision, even though some called for him to withdraw for signing an improper scorecard.
"I'm abiding by the rules," said Woods, who was at 3-under 213. "I made a mistake under the rules of golf. I took an improper drop, and I got the penalty."
Brandt Snedeker and Australia's Jason Day were tied for the lead at 7 under, while two more Aussies, Adam Scott and Marc Leishman, and 2009 Masters champion Angel Cabrera were another stroke back. On moving day at Augusta, no one made much of a move, setting up quite a shootout on Sunday.
This day will be remembered for the penalty against Woods, which sure stirred up plenty of debate on social media. Some fellow golfers claimed Woods got special treatment and others noted it came one day after 14-year-old Guan Tianlang was penalized a stroke for slow play, nearly causing him to miss the cut.
"I think (Woods) should WD (withdraw). He took a drop to gain an advantage," tweeted David Duval, once Woods' top rival.
Others said it was the right decision.
"I know he didn't do anything malicious or was trying to gain an advantage or anything like that," Nick Watney said. "I'm sure he feels terrible about it and I believe 100 percent that he didn't do anything on purpose."
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.
Still in the game, Woods birdied the very first hole. He couldn't keep the momentum going on the front nine, making the turn with an even-par 36 after a 2-foot try at the par-5 eighth spun all the way around the cup - and came out.
"I've never seen a horseshoe like," Woods moaned.
But he made three birdies on the back side - including one at the hole that stirred up so much controversy the day before, the par-5 15th. Knocking a 5-iron over the water, he actually had a shot at eagle before tapping in for par. Nifty par saves at the last three holes left Woods in decent position going to the final round.
Tim Clark made the biggest charge among the early players, shooting a 5-under 67 that left him at 3-under 213.
Updated April 13, 2013
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