Sunday, March 16, 2014

Outside Agencies at Work on Tour Last Week



            Last week on the PGA Tour we had two very interesting outside agency situations, one for each tournament.  This first is my favorite, right up there with the “cheeky monkey” that got a little randy with a golf ball in a bunker on the European Tour a few years ago.

Iguana Attack in Puerto Rico

            During the Puerto Rico Open, Andrew Loupe’s ball met with a very unfriendly (or perhaps overly friendly) reptile after coming to rest on the putting green.  The applicable Rule here is 18-1 which requires the player to replace the ball, without penalty.  If the iguana had successfully attacked and stolen the ball he would have been able to substitute a new ball.  For those who are afraid of iguana germs, Andrew was permitted to clean the ball when he replaced it (Rule 21 permits a player to clean the ball any time it is lifted except under Rules 5-3, 12-2 and 22 or Decision 20-1/0.7).


Fan Walks Off With Luke Donald’s Golf Ball

            The situation at the WGC-Cadillac Championship was just a bit more involved, albeit not quite as entertaining.  A zealous fan saw a stray golf ball, picked it up and walked off with it.  A cameraman caught up to her and had her put it back.  The applicable Rule again is 18-1 but it is interesting that we can see the full procedure that Slugger White went through with the spectator and Luke Donald.
            Luke was required to replace the ball in the correct spot (actually, under Rule 20-3 that spectator could have replaced it as well if she knew the exact spot).  As we can see in the video we have a couple of potential scenarios develop.  It appears that she knows the exact spot from which the ball was lifted.  In that case, Donald simply needed to place the ball on the spot.  However, when she points out the spot she uses her foot and roughens the grass a bit, perhaps altering the lie.  When the lie of a ball to be placed or replaced is altered, Rule 20-3b applies.  Luke would then place the ball in the nearest most similar lie not nearer the hole and not more than one club-length from the spot.  If the spectator was not able to determine the exact spot, Rule 20-3c (Spot Indeterminable), would apply and Donald would be required to drop the ball as near as possible to the estimated spot no nearer the hole.
            In Luke’s case, it appears that Slugger was satisfied that the spectator knew the exact spot and the lie had not been altered by her actions, so Donald replaced the ball and it was back in play, without penalty.

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