Saturday, June 21, 2014

Lexi Thompson 9th Hole TIO Explanation

            On the 9th hole, Lexi Thompson’s tee shot went long in the difficult par-three.  Her ball came to rest near a curious white line.  She called in walking referee and USGA President Tom O’Toole who explained that the white line defines the limit of the Temporary Immovable Obstruction including the grandstand and television cables and its tower. 
            The Local Rule and relief procedures for TIO’s can be found in the Appendix.  Players are entitled to relief not just for physical interference, but also line of play intervention.  In Lexi’s case, she needed to determine whether or not she had physical interference because she was standing inside the white-lined area and her ball was clearly outside the white-lined area.  The answer was yes.  For all intents and purposes, when a TIO is defined in such a manner, a player can consider the white line is a large invisible wall, and if their ball or stance break the plane of that invisible wall, they have “physical interference” even if not actual part of the TIO interferes.
            TIO’s are frequently positioned in such a manner that relief no nearer the hole as the Local Rule alone would require is impracticable, and the Committee installs drop zones.  In some cases, because a point no nearer the hole that avoids physical interference could potentially move a player’s position so drastically, the Committee installs “mandatory” drop zones.  The TIO on 9 is one of those situations.              As we heard on the telecast, it was not mandatory for Lexi to take relief, however, if she decided to take relief she was required to use the nearest drop zone.  Lexi opted to take relief and unfortunately her ball rolled into an old divot in the drop zone and it seriously affected her play and she ended up making bogey.  Sometimes golf is a game of breaks, and as a mentor of mine likes to say, “Bad luck starts somewhere.”

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