Rules official Mark Russell spoke to spectators who said they saw it land, and considering the open terrain, determined a fan had taken the ball.
Woods was given a drop with no penalty instead of going back to the fairway for his fourth shot. He made wound up with a par.
"There were about five or six people that ran over to the ball, and the next thing you know, we get down there and there's hundreds of people and no ball," Woods said. "You saw an area there, there's nothing there. We looked around for a while, and then Mark came over there and analyzed the situation and what was going on."
Now if he can figure out what's going on with his game.
Woods won at Bay Hill to end a 30-month drought on the PGA Tour, and then had his worst performance as a pro at the Masters when he tied for 40th. Next up is The Players Championship, the tournament where he has finished out of the top 10 more than any other.
"Well, it's frustration," he said. "I finished, what, 12 back of the lead, and I'm not playing the weekend where I have a chance to compete for a title. I've missed my share of cuts in the past, and they don't feel good."
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