Saturday, May 4, 2013

One Ball, Preferred Lies and Sergio...And Sergio...

            Ok, so we’ve had a few events happen in the past few days so here’s an overview of what’s happened at Quail Hollow during the Wells Fargo Championship and on the LPGA Tour at Kingsmill:

The “One Ball Rule”

            Erik Compton called a penalty on himself for a violation of the “One Ball Rule" on Thursday during the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship.  The so-called “One Ball Rule" has always been just slightly misnamed – it is actually a Condition of the Competition and not a local Rule.  Found in the Rules of Golf at Appendix I-C-1c it states, “During a stipulated round, the balls a player plays must be of the same brand and model as detailed by a single entry on the current list of Conforming Golf Balls.”
            Compton realized that he had inadvertently switched from one of the brand-new prototype 2013 models of the Pro-V1x and had put a 2011 model Pro-V1x into play.  This seems relatively minor but as we all know, technology moves fast and those two golf balls have two separate listings on the current list of Conforming Golf Balls.
            The “One Ball” Condition has one of those maximum penalty per round penalty statements, meaning Compton could only have been subject to four total penalty strokes had he used the ball for multiple holes.  One interesting note is that this breach does not need to be corrected immediately.  Upon discovery of the breach, the player may finish the hole with the incorrect ball, so long as he does not play it from the next teeing ground.  The player may also elect to substitute a correct ball immediately by placing it on the spot where the incorrect ball originally lay.  If, however, the player does not put a correct ball into play from the next teeing ground, the p[layer is subject to disqualification.
            The discussion came up earlier in the year about a player who notices the breach on the final hole of the round.  This is not a situation where the player needs to go back and correct the mistake (like playing from outside the teeing ground or playing a wrong ball).  If the breach is noticed on the final putting green, the player incurs a two-stroke penalty for each hole where the breach first occurred with a maximum of four penalty strokes.  No correction has to be made at that point.  So if you realize the incorrect ball was put into play at the 13th hole, you would incur two penalty strokes at the 13th and 14th holes, but no further penalty is incurred. 

Sergio’s “Putt”

            This wasn’t so much a Rules situation, but it could use some clarification.  Remember that the Rules of Golf do not differentiate between the club used for a stroke when trying to define it.  Although Sergio “chipped” the ball from the putting green, because the stroke was made from the putting green it is considered a “putt.”  In the opposite situation, if Sergio uses a putter from through the green (like the fringe), it would be a “chip” and a line of putt would not be applicable only a line of play.  This difference typically comes into play when determining performance statistics, but a relevant Rules situation would be when there is interference from an immovable obstruction (like a sprinkler head).
            If a player’s ball lies through the green (more specifically not on the putting green) and a sprinkler interferes with a stroke using the putter, without any local Rules in effect, the player would not be entitled to relief.  Line of putt is not applicable.  If, however, the ball and obstruction lay on the putting green, a player would be entitled to relief for interference by an immovable obstruction on the line of putt, regardless of whether he is using a putter.

Sergio – again.

            After the Tiger Woods incident at the Masters, a lot of questions have been raised about viewer call-ins.  At the Wells Fargo on Friday, a viewer called on to question Sergio’s marking and replacement of his ball on the 17th putting green.  He had apparently marked the ball from the side and when replaced the viewer thought he was putting it back in the wrong place.  After television review, Tour officials ruled that there was no breach.  Sergio was honorable in the situation and declared, “If people are going to think I’m a cheater, I’d rather get a two-stroke penalty and move on than not get a two-stroke penalty and people think I’m cheating.”
            There are many ways to correctly mark a golf ball prior to lifting it.  The Note to Rule 20-1 and Decision 20-1/16 tell us that a mark SHOULD be placed immediately behind the ball, but nothing in the Rules of Golf requires that the mark be placed behind the ball.  There was nothing wrong with Sergio marking the ball from the side or at an angle, so long as the ball was replaced at the same spot.  According to the Officials' review, he did exactly that.
            It was recently revealed that Tiger’s call-in viewer was actually a former Rules Official who had the number of one of the officials working the Masters.  I personally believe that the controversy surrounding viewer call-ins is blown slightly out of proportion because it is highly likely that the majority of these calls are coming from Rules Officials that have the phone number and ability to call working officials.  I am in the industry and don’t have the first clue how I would contact somebody in a call-in situation.  Whoever is doing the calling, has an in and likely the knowledge to know what they’re actually calling about.  Remember that the Tour or body in charge of the event does not have to consider the phone calls, they only do if there is some merit behind the information.

Lift, Clean and Place – sort of

            Most country club members are familiar with “preferred lies” more commonly known as “lift, clean and place.”  On both the PGA and LPGA Tours this week, officials decided to use the Rule selectively.  Lift, clean and place was only in effect on certain holes in both events due to conditions on the course.  Some viewers may be wondering how this is possible.
            In the Rules of Golf at Appendix I-B-4c you will find the recommended Local Rule for “Preferred Lies.”  The first sentence reads, “A ball lying in a closely mown area through the green (or specify a more restricted area, e.g., at the 6th hole) may be lifted, without penalty, and cleaned.”
            This recommended verbiage clearly permits the Committee to restrict the Local Rule to a specific hole or holes in cases where the conditions of the course do not warrant using the Local Rule throughout the entire course.
            Christina Kim admirably called a penalty on herself when she lifted and cleaned her ball on one of the holes not specified by the LPGA Tour.  She admitted that she was playing quickly and thought that hole 6 was hole 7.  If she replaced the ball in the exact spot she was subject to a one-stroke penalty for a breach of Rule 18-2a (Ball at Rest Moved).  If she placed the ball on a different spot than the original and played it she was subject to a two-stroke penalty for playing from a wrong place in breach of Rule 18-2a which required her to replace the moved ball.
            Much to her credit she tweeted about it later, “I’m too quick for anyone to catch.  It’s my own fault.  I thought 6 was 7.” And then in response to a Twitter follower who wanted to place some blame on the caddie, “not a chance. Was all me. I was faster than anyone realized.  Why blame anyone but myself, since I knew the rule.”
            Always a class act.

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