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‘Ball tampering’ controversy

Springfield: Officials of the US PGA Championship defused a Tiger Woods controversy on Friday, dismissing suggestions that the world No. 1’s caddie, Steve Williams, had stepped on his ball the previous day.

Woods, who carded an opening five-over-par 75, could have faced disqualification for signing an improper scorecard if officials ruled that Williams, whether or not intentionally, had trod on Woods’ ball and failed to admit to doing so.

Woods said on Friday that he was confident that William did not come near the ball and PGA rules officials agreed.

“There is absolutely no evidence that he (Williams) stepped on the ball,” said Kerry Haigh, the PGA of America’s managing director of tournaments. “We know nothing happened.”

The incident took place on the par-five 18th during Thursday’s first round after Woods’ tee shot drifted left into thick rough lining the bank of a creek running alongside the fairway.

When the ball was finally located, it was deeply embedded in the soft ground. Initially believing a television crew had been responsible for the plugged ball, Woods asked rules officials for relief.

However, officials were unable to determine whether anyone had stepped on the ball and Woods was forced to take a penalty drop. He ended up with a bogey-six there after two-putting from 18 feet.

Later in the day, the local newspaper, based on television footage obtained from broadcaster CBS, published a story suggesting New Zealander Williams may have stepped on the ball.

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