Ruling of the Day - Friday
Many viewers of the TV coverage of The Open on Friday witnessed Graeme McDowell on the 4th green move his ball-marker as it was interfering with the line of putt of Tiger Woods. McDowell then replaced his ball and putted out from this spot.
It therefore appeared that McDowell had putted out from a wrong place and was in breach of Rule 20-7. However, what was not shown on camera was the fact that Tiger Woods had asked McDowell to mark his ball and move the ball-marker to the side as it was interfering with his first putt. When Tiger’s first putt finished short of the hole, it was still his turn to play. But now McDowell’s ball-marker, in its moved position, was interfering with Tiger’s next putt.
Woods asked McDowell to replace it back to his original spot so he could putt out. McDowell did this and was filmed doing so. In moving the ball-marker back, he actually returned the ball-marker to its original position and eventually replaced the ball and putted out from the correct place.
If a player considers that another ball might interfere with his play, he may have it lifted (Rule 22-2). To do so, McDowell was required to mark the position of his ball. The Note to Rule 20-1 clarifies that the position of the ball to be lifted should be marked by placing a ball-marker, a small coin or other similar object immediately behind the ball. If the ball-marker interferes with the play of another player, it should be placed one or more clubhead-lengths to the side.
When moving a ball or ball-marker to the side to prevent it from interfering with another player’s stance or stroke, the player may measure from the side of the ball or ball-marker. In order to accurately replace the ball on the spot from which it was lifted, the steps used to move the ball or ball-marker to the side should be reversed.
McDowell managed to complete his second round in level par for a two-round total of 146.