Before joining the Champions tour, Eger was a tournament director with both the PGA Tour and the USGA. So in other words, Eger is deeply versed in the ins and outs of tournament etiquette and rules.
So when Tiger Woods took a curious drop on the 15th hole, Eger’s tournament director instincts quickly kicked in and quickly used his DVR to rewind the coverage to take a closer look. That closer look led to Eger phoning in the possible rules violation to Masters officials which ultimately led to Woods being assessed a two-stroke penalty.
Eger explained why he did what he did to Golf.com’s Michael Bamberger.
In a recent telephone interview, Eger said he was causally watching the Friday round of the Masters in his Florida home. As Woods came off the 16th green, where he got up and down for par, Eger noticed Woods had dropped a shot since he had last seen his score. Eger was curious to see how that had happened.
Through the magic of modern TV, Eger was able to rewind and watch Woods on the 15th hole. He saw Woods play his third shot, the one that famously hit the fiberglass flagstick and caromed into the water. He then watched Woods take his drop.
“I could see there was a divot — not a divot, a divot hole — when he played the shot the second time that was not there the first time,” Eger said. “I played it again and again. I could see that the fairway was spotless the first time he played the shot and there was that divot hole, maybe three or four feet in front of where he played after the drop.”
Eger knew immediately there had been a possible rules violation. He also knew he had to act quickly so that Woods would not sign an incorrect scorecard, which almost always leads to disqualification.
At this point Eger didn’t have a phone number for Masters competition committee chairman Fred Ridley. So he quickly turned to someone he knew was working the Masters.
Back at the Eger home — and in Augusta — the clock was ticking. Eger said he did not have a phone number for Ridley, but he did have one for Mickey Bradley, a veteran PGA Tour official who he knew was working the Masters. The tournament brings in rules officials from all over the world to officiate. Eger called Bradley, who, done with his work for the day, had already left the grounds.
“I was driving on Washington Road and I saw that David was calling, so I pulled over to the side,” Bradley said last Saturday, while sitting in a golf cart off the 6th hole of TPC Louisiana, where he was working the Zurich Classic.
The previous day, Bradley had become a YouTube sensation when he calmly drove alongside a three-legged alligator that had decided to watch some golf. Bradley, from Biloxi, Miss., knows his way around wildlife.
Eger described the drop to Bradley. Their call ended, and Eger sent Bradley a text message about it as well.
Bradley immediately called Ridley and Russell, the veteran PGA Tour administrator who is on the three-man Masters competition committee that is chaired by Ridley, a former U.S. Amateur champion and USGA president. Bradley also forwarded Eger’s text to Russell and Ridley. In his text, Eger wrote that Woods “didn’t appear to play by Rule 26-1-a.” He wrote that he “appeared to be 3-4 feet back” from his divot mark.
Bradley forwarded Eger’s text message at 6:59 p.m.
From there, more text messages were exchanged as Ridley began to investigate. And the rest is history.