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Golfers have mixed reaction to Woods' infraction

| Saturday, April 13, 2013, 9:48 p.m.
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Tiger Woods walks off the 18th green after the third round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on Saturday, April 13, 2013, in Augusta, Ga.

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tiger Woods still has a chance to win the Masters.

Some of his fellow players seem OK with that; others are unsure.

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-par 70 and will go to the final round four strokes behind co-leaders Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera.

Steve Stricker was among those who believe club officials got it right.

“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.”

Several golfers who didn't qualify for the Masters weighed in on the issue via social media.

David Duval, who once supplanted Woods as the world's top-ranked player but is no longer a regular on the PGA Tour, went on Twitter to say his former rival should pull out of the year's first major to make things right.

“Was there intent to break the rule is the question?” Duval wrote. “I think he should WD (withdraw). He took a drop to gain an advantage.”

Kyle Thompson, who plays on a lower-tier tour, felt Woods was getting preferential treatment — a perception that Augusta National strongly denied.

“I guess Tiger is BIGGER than golf,” Thompson tweeted. “Any other person in the world gets DQ'd. Gotta keep those TV ratings going right?”

Hunter Mahan said the issue was more complicated than that. He failed to make the cut at the Masters but was intrigued by the precedent.

“I like this ruling because he took an illegal drop but no official brought it to his (attention),” Mahan tweeted, adding that both sides — those who thought Woods should be DQed, those who thought a two-stroke penalty was proper — had good points to make. “Not sure the right answer.”

Former player and U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger said the decision was fair.

“I actually like the fact that he's protected,” Azinger said. “He signed the correct card, they added two shots for a penalty he didn't realize he committed.”

But another former player, Curtis Strange, was troubled by the ruling.

“Whatever the case is, he didn't drop as close as possible as he could,” Strange said. “Did he do it intentionally? No. He did it unintentionally and broke a rule.”

For the most part, the Augusta gallery seemed pleased that Woods was still around for the weekend. He received nothing but cheers when he stepped up to the first tee. But one fan made an off-handed complaint when Woods pitched up short of the flag at No. 3.

“He should have given himself a couple of extra yards there,” the man said.

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