Saturday, March 5, 2016

Rory McIlroy's Driver

            On the 18th hole at the WGC Cadillac Championship we saw a unique event that raised a few eyebrows, but was actually perfectly within the Rules.  To setup the situation, in recent years we’ve been introduced to adjustable drivers with heads that are screwed on. This has brought about a few questions regarding the Rules concerning driver adjustments.
            Today, Rory McIlroy was seen tightening the screw on his driver on the 18th tee, and rightfully so a couple questions needed to be answered: what caused him to ask for the wrench and why did he use it?
            The reason these questions needed to be answered rest in Rule 4-2. Rule 4-2 states that the playing characteristics of a club must not be adjusted or changed during the stipulated round. If McIlroy was adjusting the settings of his driver, there would be a problem.
            However, Rule 4-3 also came into play. Rule 4-3 permits a player to repair a club (without delay) that has become damaged in the normal course of play. The term damage can apply to a few things: the club could be obviously damaged, like an iron shaft that is snapped in half as the result of striking a tree in the follow through of a stroke. Or it could be less obviously damaged, as we saw today.
            McIlroy was seen tapping the driver on the ground because he heard a rattle. He discovered that the head had in fact become loose during the round, and because of Rule 4-3 he was entitled to repair the club to its original state. In this case, that meant he could tighten the loose screw back to how it was when he started.

            The end result was no penalty as he acted within the Rules. Had he tightened the screw to a different setting or otherwise changed the playing characteristics, McIlroy would’ve been disqualified for making a stroke with that club in breach of Rule 4-2. However, since he simply repaired the loose screw, Rule 4-3 provided that no penalty was the correct ruling.  Decision 4-3/2 specifies that the term "repair" means restoring the club as early as possible to its condition prior to becoming damaged. Tightening a screw loosened during the normal course of play falls well into that category. The video covers the situation quite well in the commentary.

1 comment:

  1. I wish the title the PGA Tour put on the video was not Rory McIllroy "adjusts" his driver but "Repaired" his driver.