Sunday, August 20, 2017

Amateur Match Play Fun and Other Commentary

With the close of the Amateur Match Play Championship, the NCGA Championship season is officially over the hump and on the way cruising to our lengthy off-season of December 31-January1. Fortunately, there were no major Rules incidents of note, but I do get to share a video of some of the play during the second 18 of the Championship Match.

The 5th hole at Spyglass Hill is a challenging par 3 with a very uniquely shaped green.  The back right hole location forces anyone who leaves their tee shot short right to come up with a crafty solution to have a reasonable par putt.  Shintaro Ban took wedge out.  While we were standing there, I had a brief discussion with the Referee for the match about reminding Shintaro that he can't strike the flagstick since the stroke is from the putting green.  However, he knew the Rule well and his caddie attended the flagstick without any prompt from the peanut gallery.

I apologize for the sideways video, but my editing techniques are getting rusty...

The Championship match went all the way to the final hole, with Isaiah Salinda narrowly edging out the defending champ Shintaro Ban with a win at the final hole and a 1 up victory.

Throughout the week in my conversations with our many referees, I was reminded that there have been several Rules controversies/situations that have occurred recently that I had not given much commentary on.  So below are some of my comments.

Jordan Spieth at the British Open
I'm sure glad I didn't have to figure this one out on live international television.  Spieth declared his ball unplayable and used his 28b "flagline" option to get the ball to a spot where his TIO relief would move him to the right of the equipment trailers. Great work by the Referee to use the radio and get staff and rover support to make sure the proper relief and reference points were determined.  Yes it took a while, but that ruling was not as simple as just knowing the Rules involved.

Erica Shepherd and the Putt That Wasn't
I had the honor of working the Girls' Junior Championship, but had already headed back home by the time this incident occurred.  The bottom line: always double check with your opponent before moving your ball. For those of you that think there's a sportsmanship element to this - get over it. It is extremely likely that this violation would have been enforced regardless of Shepherd's initial comment that Moon's putt hadn't been conceded. As an aside to those who actually commented negatively to Shepherd on social media, if you're on Twitter trolling a 16-year old because she stated a fact, I think you've got some problems.

The Bunker Liner
Another situation I did not witness, but a player on Tour received free relief for interference from the bunker liner when his ball was not lying well. He was still required to drop in the bunker but it gave him a much better shot at the ball.  The bottom line - that's what the Rule says.  He had interference from an immovable obstruction in the bunker. He was entitled to relief. It pays to know the Rules (or at least enough to ask for help).

Poulter and Virtual Certainty
There was a bit of volume surrounding a ruling with Ian Poulter during the final round of the PGA Championship. I happen to know the Referee involved and I feel for him - because the two players clearly didn't fully understand the concept of virtual certainty and how it applies. Just like Spieth at the British Open, I'm glad I didn't have to figure this one out on international television. More than that, in the end the situation that arose (by finding the original ball outside the hazard after 5 minutes - see Definition of Lost Ball - but before one had been put into play under the water hazard Rule, he had a situation that literally is not fully contemplated by the Rules). CS, I feel for ya.