Tiger Woods hits flagstick at Augusta’s 15th hole, avoids controversy in Masters return

It was a déjà vu moment for Tiger Woods on the 15th hole at Augusta National on Thursday. The 15-time major champion hit the flagstick with his third shot on the par-5, just as he did in 2013 when he was involved in one of the most controversial incidents in Masters history.

Woods was leading the tournament by three shots in the second round eight years ago when he hit a perfect wedge shot that bounced off the pin and rolled back into the water.

He then took a drop from where he played his previous shot, but it was later determined that he dropped the ball two yards behind the original spot, which was a violation of the rules.

Woods was assessed a two-stroke penalty after signing his scorecard, but he was not disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard because the rules committee had already reviewed the incident and deemed it a non-issue. However, many golf fans and experts argued that Woods should have been disqualified or withdrawn from the tournament for his mistake.

Woods went on to finish fourth that year, four shots behind winner Adam Scott. He has not won the Masters since 2005, but he came close in 2018 when he finished second behind Patrick Reed.

On Thursday, Woods avoided a similar fate as he did in 2013. His third shot on the 15th hole hit the flagstick again, but this time it stayed on the green and left him with a 12-foot birdie putt. He missed the putt and settled for a par, but he was still in contention after shooting a 4-under 68 in the first round.

Woods said he was aware of the irony of hitting the flagstick again on the same hole where he had his infamous drop.

“I knew it was going to be close,” Woods said. “I just didn’t want to hit it over the green like I did last time. I hit a good shot and it just clipped it. It was a nice break.”

Woods is looking to win his sixth green jacket and his first major since his remarkable comeback victory at the 2019 U.S. Open. He said he was pleased with his performance on Thursday and hoped to build on it in the next three rounds.

“I felt like I played well today,” Woods said. “I hit some good shots and made some good putts. I’m happy with where I’m at and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Final Thoughts: Tiger Woods Hits Flagstick at 15, But Avoids Controversy

Tiger Woods is no stranger to the 15th hole at Augusta National, and the events that unfolded on that hole in the second round of the 2013 Masters are still fresh in the minds of many golf fans.

Eight years ago, Woods hit a perfect shot that ended up in the water, and a controversial drop resulted in a two-stroke penalty that sparked a heated debate over whether he should have been disqualified.

Fast forward to the first round of the 2021 Masters, and Woods found himself in a similar situation on the same hole. His third shot hit the flagstick, but this time, it stayed on the green and left him with a birdie opportunity. He missed the putt, but he avoided the controversy that surrounded his 2013 drop.

Woods acknowledged the irony of hitting the flagstick again on the same hole and seemed to handle the situation with grace and humor. He recognized that his shot was close and expressed relief that it didn’t end up in the water like it did in 2013.

Overall, Woods had a solid round, shooting a 4-under 68 and remaining in contention. While it’s still early in the tournament, his performance on Thursday suggests that he could be a factor in the final leaderboard. Whether or not he wins his sixth green jacket remains to be seen, but for now, he’s off to a good start.