Friday, February 15, 2013

"Where Was it?" "The Fairway"

Bubba Watson was a little wayward in the middle of his round today, and so was one of the carts driving around the course at Riviera CC in the Northern Trust Open.  The cart accidentally drove over Bubba's ball in the rough and moved it.  He then dropped it to put it back into play.  Some of you may wonder why it wasn't simply replaced...

First, Bubba's ball at rest was moved by an outside agency.  Rule 18-1 applies and the ball must be replaced.  However, his lie was altered and therefore we go to Rule 20-3b to get the ball back into play.  Through the green, except in a hazard the ball must be placed in the nearest most similar lie.  But wait...he dropped the ball!  Well, if we go to the Note it states, "If the original lie of the ball to be replaced has been altered and it is impossible to determine the spot where the ball is to be placed or replaced, Rule 20-3b applies if the original lie is known, and 20-3c applies if the original lie is not known."

Because Bubba was not next to the ball when it was run over the original lie was not known, it was only known that the ball had been moved and the lie altered, he didn't know exactly where to put it back or what lie he had, therefore Rule 20-3c applies.  Rule 20-3c requires the ball through the green to be dropped as near as possible to where it lay but not in a hazard.  He was entitled to clean the ball before dropping it (see Rule 21).  You could also have reached this ruling by reading Note 3 under Rule 18-1 when it is impossible to determine the spot to replace the ball.

So the Tour official had Bubba drop the ball as near as possible to where it lay.  The first drop rolled closer to the hole and he was required to re-drop under Rule 20-2c.  He did, and there was a slight hesitation to determine if the ball had rolled closer to the hole again, but it had not so the ball was in play.

The best part of the procedure is when the official asked Bubba where the ball was before it had been run over and Bubba replied, "The fairway."  Nice try, Bubba.

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