The R&A - Working for Golf

Masters Shorts

The 2016 Master’s at Augusta National was a memorable week for many players and spectators alike. There were also some memorable rulings during the week.  Here we take a look at some of the Rules that featured.

Zach Johnson falls foul of Rae’s Creek

At the 13th hole of the second round, Zach Johnson hit his third shot into Rae’s Creek, just short of the green. Johnson was in relatively shallow water and decided to play the ball as it lay, hitting it onto the green and two putting for what he thought was a bogey six. 

However, a viewer noticed that on playing the ball out of the water, Johnson had grazed the water with the bottom edge of his club on his backswing. Rule 13-4 clarifies that a player must not touch water in the water hazard with his club prior to starting his downswing with the penalty for a breach being two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play.  Johnson was shown television footage of the incident prior to signing his card and agreed that he had touched the water with his backswing. Unfortunately for Johnson, the resulting two-stroke penalty left him just two shots outside the cut mark for the weekend.

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Blowin’ in the Wind

The third round at Augusta National was an unusually blustery day for the inland course with winds gusting up to 30mph. This proved particularly challenging for many of the players on the firm and fast greens but Billy Horschel had cause to feel particularly unlucky after a strong gust blew his ball off the 15th green. Horschel had chipped his third shot onto the green and walked onto the green and marked it while his fellow-competitors played.  Prior to playing his next shot he replaced the ball on the green before walking to the far side of the hole to look at his line.  However, as he was walking back to the ball, the wind suddenly picked up and a strong gust started moving the ball, blowing it all the way down the slope and into the water hazard at the front of the green.

When Horschel had replaced his ball on the green, it was back in play. As a result, when the wind blew the ball to the new position, that was where the ball had to be played from (as wind is not considered to be an outside agency). (See also Decision 18-1/12)

As Horschel’s ball came to rest in deep water in the hazard his only options were either to play again from where he played his last shot or drop a ball back in a line keeping the point where the ball last crossed into the hazard between him and the hole (Rule 26), both under penalty of one-stroke. As the back in a line option would have taken him over to the other side of the hazard, Horschel took the first option and dropped a ball at the back right of the green as near as possible to where he had played his previous stroke from, no nearer the hole.  Fortunately for Horschel he chipped and putted for a bogey six.

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Oosthuizen Hole-In-One

One player who received some good fortune during the final round of the Masters was Louis Oosthuizen. Louis was 2nd to play at the infamous par three 16th hole and as planned he landed his tee shots several feet further to the right to allow for the slope of the green. As expected his ball started rolling down towards the hole, however before it could reach the hole, it collided with Holmes’ ball which was lying just a few feet from the pin. Oosthuizen thought his chance for a hole-in-one had gone. However, although the deflection changed the direction the ball was rolling in, his ball continued to track down the hill and straight into the hole!

The Rules clarify that if a player’s ball in motion after a stroke is deflected or stopped by another ball in play and at rest, the player must play the ball as it lies (Rule 19-5a). In Oosthuizen’s case therefore his ball was simply considered to be holed. JB Holmes’ ball was deflected closer to the hole, however in that situation, if a ball in play and at rest is moved by another ball in motion after the stroke, the moved ball must be replaced (Rule 18-5). Holmes therefore replaced his ball on the spot from which it had been moved before holing his putt for a birdie three.

Oosthuizen was the third player in the final round to achieve a hole-in-one on the 16th hole and his good fortune helped to lift him to a top 15 finish.

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