Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Full Overview of Rule 18-2 - Justin, Tiger and Inbee

            After both world #1’s were hit with penalties yesterday under Rule 18-2, another ball at rest was moved by Justin Rose today and he incurred a one-stroke penalty, much to the dismay of announcers and other media who don’t quite understand that it is all the same Rule.  So here is a clarification of Rule 18-2 and why these penalties have occurred:

Playing the Ball as it Lies

            It all starts with Rule 13-1, “The ball must be played as it lies, except as otherwise provided in the Rules.”  This means that the ball cannot be moved by anyone or anything, but there are some exceptions.
The exceptions are actually other Rules.  There are several Rules that permit the player to play the ball OTHER than as it lies without penalty:
            -Rule 24 permits the player to lift the ball to take relief from obstructions.
            -Rule 25 permits the player to lift the ball to take relief from abnormal ground conditions, an embedded ball or a wrong putting green.
            -Rules 18-1 and 19-1 may have the player play from a different spot when an outside agency has affected the position of the ball.

            There are also several Rules that permit the player to play the ball other than as it lies, but must take a penalty stroke to do so:
            -Rule 26 permits the player to take relief from water hazards
            -Rule 28 permits the player to take relief from an unplayable lie.

            There is even a Rule that REQUIRES the player to play the ball other than as it lies and take a penalty stroke:
            -Rule 27-1, if the ball comes to rest out of bounds the player must proceed under penalty of stroke and distance.  If the player plays the ball as it lies out of bounds, the player would be playing a wrong ball (Decision 15/6).

            There are also Rules that permit the player to move his ball at rest, but must follow a specific procedure to do so:
            -Rule 5-3 permits the player to lift the ball to determine if it is unfit for play.  If it is, he may substitute another ball, if it isn’t the ball must be replaced.
            -Rule 12-2 permits the player to lift the ball in order to identify it, but the ball must be replaced.
            -Rule 16-1b permits the player to lift and clean the ball when it lies on the putting green, but it must be replaced.
            -Rule 22 permits the player to lift the ball if it might assist (if any player thinks it might assist) or if it interferes (if the player whose ball it interferes with requests).  The ball must not be cleaned when lifted and must be replaced.

            Those are all instances where the ball would not be played as it lies.  So if a ball is not played from where it came to rest and it was not moved in accordance with the Rules listed above (or other rare exceptions by Decision or Local Rule), there must be a penalty associated with it depending on how the ball was moved.

When the Player Moves the Ball

            That brings us to Rule 18-2.  Rule 18-2 specifically deals with what happens when the player, his partner or either of their caddies move the ball in play.  The Rule is split into two separate parts, 18-2a covers when the ball is moved and it has not been addressed and 18-2b covers when the ball is moved after it has been addressed.
            Rule 18-2b has received a lot of press recently because a new Exception was added in 2012 to add some leniency to the Rule.  The Rule itself did not change and reads: “If a player’s ball in play moves after he has addressed it (other than as a result of a stroke), the player is deemed to have moved the ball and incurs a penalty of one stroke.”
            The new 2012 Exception absolves the player from penalty if it is known or virtually certain that the player did not cause the ball to move.  Many players thought the Exception would always get them off the hook, but Decision 18-2b/11 clarifies that in order to be virtually certain that the player did not cause the ball to move, it must be virtually certain that something else DID cause it to move and that gravity is not included in that something else.
            Rule 18-2b is what Inbee Park was penalized under yesterday.  Once she grounded her club immediately behind the ball she had addressed it.  When the ball moved after addressing it she was deemed to have moved it.  The Exception did not apply because there was no virtual certainty that something else had caused the ball to move.  Therefore, she incurred a one-stroke penalty and was required to replace the ball.
            Rule 18-2a is what happens whenever a player accidentally moves a ball prior to addressing it.  This happened yesterday with Tiger Woods when he started to move a loose impediment.  And then today, Justin Rose was penalized when his divot from a practice swing moved his ball in play.
            Where some get confused is the difference between the one-stroke and the two-stroke penalties that occur under this Rule.  Here is the answer:  The Rule (both a and b) requires the ball to be replaced unless the movement began after the backswing for the stroke and the stroke was made.  If the ball is replaced, it is only the one-stroke penalty proscribed by the Rule.  If it is NOT replaced, the player has played the ball from a wrong place, and the one-stroke penalty becomes a two-stroke penalty because the player is in breach of the Rule and incurs the general penalty.
            So yesterday, because Tiger didn’t think his ball had moved, he didn’t replace it.  When he didn’t replace it, the one-stroke penalty for moving his ball became a two-stroke penalty for playing from a wrong place.  I’ll leave the gallery to comment on the fairness of the use of video footage when the player’s eye was not able to see movement.
            Today, when Justin Rose moved his ball via his divot, he saw the movement and was able to replace the ball to the correct spot.  His one-stroke penalty stayed a one-stroke penalty.  (See Decisions 18-2a/20 and 18-2a/20.5 for practice swings moving the ball in play).
            It all comes back to Rule 13-1 and playing the ball as it lies.  In order to play it as it lies, you cannot move the ball.  If you do, there is a penalty. If you move the ball and don’t put it back it becomes a bigger penalty.

Playing from a Wrong Place and the Applicable Rule

            For the advanced Rules minds I want to share a brief note about citing penalties.  When dealing with wrong place penalties, the Rules are frequently mis-cited.  You will see citations stating that the player was penalized under Rule 20-7.  When a player plays from a wrong place, however, the Rule he is breaching is not Rule 20-7.  In fact, Rule 20-7 states specifically that, “If a competitor makes a stroke from a wrong place, he incurs a penalty of two strokes under the applicable Rule.”
            Well what is the applicable Rule?  As we saw in the examples above, it is frequently Rule 18-2a or 18-2b.  If the player moves the ball and fails to replace is it is a two-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2a or b and not 20-7.  If, when taking relief from a water hazard a player drop the ball three club-lengths from the point where the ball last crossed the margin and plays it, he incurs the one stroke penalty for taking relief and an additional two-strokes under Rule 26-1 for the breach of the Rule.  The penalty comes about because he played from a wrong place, but the Rule breached is not 20-7 but rather 26-1 in this case.

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