Saturday, May 4, 2013

Phil Mickelson and Rule 20-2c



   On the 15th hole of the third round at the Wells Fargo Championship, Phil Mickelson pulled his tee shot to the right.  His ball ended up near, but without interference from the cart path.  He proceeded to pull his next shot out of bounds.  The next part is slight conjecture but he proceeded to drop a provisional ball(we think he announced a provisional first), that eventually ceased to be a provisional before he ever played it because officials determined his original was out of bounds.  But a curious thing happened on that drop...
   When proceeding under stroke and distance for a ball that is out of bounds or when playing a provisional, the player must drop a ball as near as possible to the spot where the previous stroke was last played from (remember Tiger and stroke and distance under Rule 26-1a?).  He did so and the ball rolled a significant distance away from the spot where it first touched the ground along the cart path.  Phil waited for an official before going any further and here's why:
    Under Rule 20-2c if a ball rolls more than two club-lengths from where the ball first touches the ground the player must re-drop the ball without penalty.  Phil had not measured anything in his procedure yet and had 3-wood in his hand.  The ball was within two 3-woods of where the ball first touched, but more than two shorter clubs.  He asked the official if he could measure using a putter to which the answer was no.  Decision 20/1 tells us that a player must continue to use the club originally used in measuring for all measuring purposes in a given situation.  However, Phil had not done any measuring in this situation at least in what was seen.  It is arguable that he could have used a putter to measure and then been required to re-drop the ball.  Had Mickelson already measured with the 3-wood prior to the official's arrival, he would be stuck with that club.
   Regardless, the Committee's decision is final.  He was told to measure with the 3-wood and the result was the ball was in play.  He was then given relief from the cart path for interference with his area of intended swing.  He found the nearest point of relief and measured (with the 3-wood) one club-length in which he could drop.  He made double-bogey on the hole.
UPDATE
   I was informed that Phil had already measured with the 3-wood prior to the official's arrival.  This is why he was not permitted to change clubs as he was requesting.  Even though Phil had not done any previous measuring in this situation as we see in Decision 20/1, he had selected and measured the two club-lengths with the 3-wood and from that point on he was stuck with the 3-wood for measuring purposes.

7 comments:

  1. Phil could have used any club to measure. 20/1 concerns measuring with the same club used to determine the area on which to drop (20-2b). Phil was operating under stroke and distance, so he had not measured this area, as he dropped as near as possible to the original position of the ball (20-5). The fact that he first used his 3-wood to determine if 20-2c applied (ball rolling more than 2 club-lengths from where it first struck a part of the course) is immaterial.

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    1. Yes it is not an exact decision. It implies however that once a club is selected and used for measuring you must continue with that club. You make a valid argument and that question was in my mind as well and I'm clarifying with the powers that be.

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    2. I don't agree with "Had Mickelson already measured with the 3-wood prior to the official's arrival, he would be stuck with that club.

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    3. I understand and you have a valid argument but I'm saying its open to interpretation and I'm consulting to get a conclusive answer.

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    4. Confirmed with USGA. Once Phil had selected the club and measured he was stuck with that club. He could not change after the fact as he was trying to.

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  2. Who at Far Hills told you that?

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    1. Doesn't matter. There is agreement across the board. Once you have selected a club and measured with it you are stuck with it. End of thread.

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