Friday, July 17, 2015

JB Holmes' Second Opinion at the Open and Rule 34-2

                Yesterday at the Open Championship there was an interesting exchange regarding a situation with JB Holmes on the 15th hole.  JB Holmes was looking for TIO relief out of a very difficult lie.  The walking referee called a rover for a second opinion and European Tour official John  Paramor did not grant the relief.  Holmes was not happy with the decision and let it affect his play and discussed the situation after the round.
                The situation and wait caused a tremendous backup on the course and the discussion in the TV booth ensued.  The booth first asserted that a player is entitled to the second opinion.  JR Jones from the R & A then came on and correctly stated that a player is not entitled to a second opinion, however, a wise Rules Official will always offer to obtain a second opinion in doubtful situations.  Paul Azinger then foolishly decided to debate that statement by saying that in the States, a player is entitled to a second opinion.
                Azinger’s statement is 100% wrong.  Rule 34-2 is clear: “If a referee has been appointed by the Committee, his decision is final.”  This means that a referee’s ruling is the final decision, a player does not have the right to a second opinion, it is merely the best practice to get a second opinion when asked (and we always instruct officials that they absolutely should offer to obtain a second opinion). So please note, there are not two sets of Rules for Europe and the United States.  JR Jones correctly stated that a player is not entitled to the second opinion. When watching championships on television, please make sure to take any Rules statement from an announcer with a grain of salt. I'm hoping that Jones corrected Azinger in the booth off the air after that exchange.
At major championships a senior Rules official or staff member from the hosting organization is usually present in the booth to offer the correct ruling. When an announcer disagrees with that ruling, the announcer is usually wrong.

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