Monday, February 26, 2018

Lexi's (Newest) Penalty

On Friday at the LPGA Thailand, Lexi Thompson incurred another penalty, this time for a breach of Rule 13-2 by removing a TIO  from her line of play (or area of intended swing).  The issue at hand was a large sponsor sign that impeded her line of play. I cannot confirm whether it physically interfered with her area of intended swing, but the breach is the same whether it interfered with her swing physically or with her line of play. 

Either way, per the Notice to Players for this event, the sign was deemed to be a TIO, which meant that relief was to be taken by lifting and dropping the ball at a spot in accordance with the Local Rule, rather than moving the sign.  Because there was help nearby, she had the sign moved out of her way.

Moving something that is deemed to be fixed (such as a TIO) in order to improve your area of intended swing or line of play is a breach of Rule 13-2, which comes with a two-stroke penalty in stroke play.

I can feel for Lexi on this one, but the situation emphasizes the importance of reading the Local Rules. In some events, signage like this would be treated as a movable obstruction when readily-movable. In other events (like this one), championship staff do not want players moving the signs for any reason and therefore deem the item to be a TIO, which grants relief for line of play intervention, but does not permit the player to move the object.  I can even reference situations where a sign like this would be treated as either a movable obstruction or a TIO depending on whether the player can readily move the object.

How a player has to treat the object depends 100% on the verbiage in the Notice to Players.  Since I am not privy to the Notice for this event, I cannot specify the exact verbiage that was used, but given the penalty it is safe to say this event specified the sponsor signs (or maybe even just the signs on this particular hole) were deemed to be TIOs. Therefore, even though she was able to move the sign rather quickly and without causing damage to the course, the proper method for obtaining relief was to lift and drop the ball in a position that provided relief in accordance with the Local Rule.