Sunday, April 7, 2013

Valero Texas Open - Rory, Charley and More

Two fun Rules incidents occurred in about a 30 minute span while watching the final round of the Valero Texas Open and then another happened to leader Martin Laird an hour later.

Rory's Ricochet

On the fifth hole and involved Rory McIlroy's ball.  Ryan Palmer played a stroke from the bunker that flew directly into Rory's ball lying about two feet from the hole.  The stroke knocked Rory's ball off the putting green and the contact helped keep Palmer's ball on the putting green.  The ruling was fairly simple and the players got it right without the assistance of a Rules Official.

Palmer was required to play his ball where it came to rest.  Rory had to replace his ball to where it had been moved from (see Rule 19-5a).  The one note of interest is that the player's determined that Rory's ball needed to be replaced on top of a ball mark that was created by Palmer's ball knocking Rory's into the putting surface.  Rory was permitted to repair the ball mark and then replace the ball.

For those wondering why repairing the ball mark was not a breach of Rule 13-2, the answer is also simple and two-fold:  The ball mark was on the putting green.  Rule 16-1c permits the player to repair ball marks on the putting green at any time.  But even if the mark and ball were through the green, in equity, Rory would have been permitted to repair the mark because he was entitled to the lie he had when his ball came to rest (see Decision 13-2/8).

Ball Unfit?

On the eighth hole, Charley Hoffman had played a stroke out of the bunker onto the putting green.  While his ball was lifted he showed it to his fellow-competitor Jim Furyk because he wanted to take the ball out of play.  Furyk would not confirm that the ball was unfit, and the announcers correctly noted that a simple abrasion would not be reason enough to claim the ball was unfit.

Rule 5-3 states that a ball is unfit for play if it is visibly cut, cracked or out of shape.  It is not unfit because its surface is scratched or scraped.  Charley called for an official for a second opinion, which he is permitted to do (see Decision 5-3/8) but was not able to substitute a ball to my knowledge.  A great example of Furyk protecting the field by not simply allowing Charley to do anything he wanted without question.


On the 14th hole Martin Laird flared his second shot to the par-5 hole well right.  First, he correctly announce and played a provisional.  When doing so, his first drop rolled closer to the hole than its estimated original position.  He re-dropped and played the provisional.

His original ball, however, was found and in play but he had line of play interference from the electronic scoreboard.  The scoreboard is defined as a Temporary Immovable Obstruction on the PGA Tour hard card and he was entitled to relief for interference on his line of play in accordance with the Local Rule in Appendix I (see App. I-B-7).  He was permitted to drop the ball within one club-length of the nearest point where interference was avoided as defined in the Local Rule.  He did so.  The first drop rolled closer to the hole than that nearest point of relief.  He re-dropped and the ball rolled up against a television cable.

The Official on site correctly announced that he was not required to place the ball where it first hit the ground and the ball was in play (see Rule 20-2c).  The cable was a new situation.  The cable itself was a movable obstruction and he was entitled to remove the cable.  If the ball moved he would be required to replace it.  We were not able to see if the ball did move but we did see the cable removed well out of the way onto the cart path.  He did not have interference from the cart path, although it was close, and then had to play the ball as it lay.

This sequence of events highlights the important of knowing Rule 20-2c which tells us when we are required to re-drop the ball, or when to place the ball after re-dropping.  Without knowledge of this Rule, Laird could very easily have a) played his provisional ball from the wrong place (which would've been a penalty that went away because the provisional was later abandoned) or b) picked up his re-dropped ball when it was actually in play and incurred a one-stroke penalty under 18-2a if he replaced it or a two-stroke penalty under 18-2a if he failed to replace it.

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