Tiger Woods had a slam-dunk eagle at Torrey Pines. Or did he? Let's take a closer look

Tiger Woods hit one of the most astonishing shots of even his career on the final day of the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

From the fairway, his wedge shot was dialled in on the pin. It landed in the middle of the green, took two bounces and the third landed straight in the hole. The ball disappeared for a split second only to reappear and finish a few inches outside the cup.

It needs to be seen to be believed…

But wait, didn’t the ball go in the hole? Isn’t there a rule that says “if any part of the ball is in the hole”? Why doesn’t it count? Those were the sorts of questions flooding the replies to that PGA Tour tweet.

Here’s NCG’s Rules of Golf expert Steve Carroll to explain…

Why Tiger Woods’ hole-out didn’t count

You’re thinking here of Rule 13.2c – or to give it its more snappy title ‘Ball Resting Against Flagstick in Hole’.

This is a special case which reads: “If a player’s ball comes to rest against the flagstick left in the hole: If any part of the ball is in the hole below the surface of the putting green, the ball is treated as holed even if the entire ball is not below the surface.”

While that clearly doesn’t apply to what happened to Tiger, it does give you the telling reason as to why the GOAT wasn’t celebrating a slam-dunk eagle.

The key is the word “rest”.

In the definitions found in the Rules of Golf, a ball is holed when it is “at rest in the hole after a stroke and the entire ball is below the surface of the putting green”.

Woods’ ball wasn’t ‘at rest’ when it popped in and popped out of the cup.

An interpretation, to the definition (bear with me), states that: “The words ‘at rest’ in the definition of holed are used to make it clear that if a ball falls into the hole and bounces out, it is not holed.”

But “if a player removes a ball from the hole that is still moving (such as circling or bouncing in the bottom of the hole), it is still considered holed despite the ball not having come to rest in the hole.”

Still a pretty cool birdie…

If you have any more questions regarding the Rules of Golf, you can ask in the comments below or send Steve a tweet.