Sunday, March 30, 2014

Valero Texas Open and The Goodwin Final Rounds

            Today during the final round of the Valero Texas Open there were a couple of notable situations worthy of some discussion:

Kevin Na and the Bunker
            On the fifth hole, Na’s ball found the devious fairway bunker that also took its toll on Matt Kuchar.  His first stroke from the bunker went over the first lip but came to rest in the same bunker.  In frustration Na started raking the sand with his club and then slammed his club downward into the sand making a comment about the depth of the sand on the face.
            He was assessed a two-stroke penalty under Rule 13-4 and some of the TV discussion was a bit misleading.  They gave the impression that his actions might not result in penalty if he had not gained an advantage.  This was not really the issue.
            Decision 13-4/0.5 gives specific examples of what constitutes testing the condition of the hazard and one example is making a practice swing that touches the sand in a hazard.  Na didn’t really make a practice swing so what was he really guilty of?
            When your ball lies in a hazard you may not touch the ground in the hazard with your club under Rule 13-4b.  There are several important exceptions under Rule 13-4, but slamming the club into the sand is not one of them (the smoothing of the sand for the purpose of caring for the course would be one of those exceptions since Na did not smooth sand on his line of play or in his area of intended stance or swing).  So Na was in breach of Rule 13-4b because his ball was still in the bunker.  Had the ball been extricated from the bunker or had been out of the bunker at the time Na slammed his club, he would not have been in breach of the Rule.

Slow Play
            Andrew Loupe was issued a warning for receiving a bad time while being on the clock.  Bravo to the PGA Tour…sort of.  I say sort of because this really should be happening more often and it’s only been under the more recent pressure to start enforcing pace of play that we have finally seen some action.  That said, I’m glad something was done because this final round was excruciatingly slow.  What was very nice was the explanation of the PGA Tour policy that a player receives a warning for the first bad time, a one-stroke penalty for the second bad time and an additional two-stroke penalty for the third bad time.  Players are timed once theyir group is deemed out of position.  The first player to play receives 40 seconds and each player after receives an additional 20 seconds.
Play moved noticeably quicker after the warning was issued.  Throughout the telecast we saw a lot more of the PGA Tour Rules Official who was timing several players and groups, including Matt Kuchar.

The Goodwin Final Round

            First, thank you to Coach Conrad Ray and Assistant Coach Phillip Rowe for another excellent event.  It’s always a pleasure working with them as I’ve been the lead official for the last four Stanford men’s events and I look forward to hopefully many more.  There were several notable rulings, but only one that I would like to highlight because it comes straight from a Decision that we rarely think much about.
            Congratulations are also in order, as for the first time in those four years the home team won the event, and handily at that.  Along with the team victory, number 1 in the WAGR Patrick Rodgers also took home individual honors with an impressive 63-69-64-196 finish (The 69 came in horrendous weather that included an 1:10 suspension of play mid-round).
            On the first hole, the official for the second group off tee #1 radioed from the green.  A player had marked his ball, tapped down the marker and walked away.  When he turned around, his marker was no longer there because it had stuck to the bottom of his putter!  Uh oh, right?  Actually, the action of tapping down the marker in this case is considered to be directly attributable to the act of marking the ball.  When a ball-marker or ball is accidentally moved in the act of marking the ball there is no penalty and the ball or ball-marker must be replaced.  Decision 20-1/6 covers this situation exactly.  Kudos to the official for remembering to use the radio instead of trying to figure it out on his own.  Whenever you use the radio you’re as smart as the smartest official on the airwaves.  If you have to dig into the Decisions book to determine a ruling, then you need to be on the radio.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, decision D 13-4/35 is the one that covers slamming the club in a bunker