Considering the pressure and importance of a decision at the Ryder Cup, thankfully there were no rulings of note, however there have been a few unusual rulings in other events over the last few months.
Noh plays from Wrong Putting Green
During the Barclays Championship at Ridgewood Country Club in August, South Korea’s Seung-Yul Noh’s tee shot on the par-4 11th hole came to rest on the third green. Noh had a good line to the pin from the middle of the third green and so, much to the greenkeeper’s dismay, he decided to play the ball as it lay towards the 11th green.
Unfortunately for Noh, Rule 25-3 states that if a player’s ball is on a wrong putting green, he must take relief and drop the ball within one club length not nearer the hole than the nearest point of relief. As Noh had breached this Rule he was penalised the applicable two strokes and his bogey five became a triple bogey seven.
When taking relief from a wrong putting green, it is worth remembering that relief is only provided for the lie of the ball, i.e. no relief is given for stance or area of intended swing. The nearest point of relief in this situation will therefore be the nearest edge of the putting green to where the ball lies, no nearer the hole. The player must then drop the ball within a club-length of that point, off the putting green, again no nearer the hole.
The Noh ruling was so unusual that PGA Tour Vice President of Rules and Competitions, Slugger White said: “I’ve been out here 33 years, we have never seen this happen.”
Watch this incident here.
Chella Choi replaces ball in the wrong place
Another unusual incident occurred at the LPGA’s Canadian Pacific Women’s Open at the end of August when Chella Choi withdrew from the event after disagreeing with a penalty that she was given following her second round.
After missing her birdie putt on the 10th green, Choi was left with a short putt of around a foot for her par. Before tapping in she marked her ball slightly to left of the ball, lifted it, cleaned it and replaced it but this time to the other side of the marker, around an inch left of where it had initially come to rest. The marking, lifting and replacing of the ball was all done within a few seconds and all the while the player was leaning down over the spot.
Rule 16-1b clarifies that a ball may be marked, lifted and replaced on the putting green, however this requires the ball to be replaced as nearly as possible to the point from where it was lifted and in this situation it was determined that this was not the case. The player had therefore not proceeded in line with the requirements of Rule 16-1b and was given the applicable two stroke penalty for the breach.
The two stroke penalty meant that Choi would miss the cut by one stroke, however she decided instead to withdraw from the tournament and refused to sign her card.
Watch this incident here.
Yang saved from penalty at US Amateur
Gunn Yang from Korea won the closely fought 36- hole final of the US Amateur Championship by 2&1 from Corey Conners of Canada. The result could have been somewhat different had the walking referee, USGA President, Tom O’Toole not stepped in to save Yang from a loss of hole penalty on the 11th hole of the second round.
Yang was standing over his 15-foot par putt when O’Toole noticed Yang’s caddie, Richard Grice standing directly behind his player. If Yang was to putt with Grice standing directly behind him then this would be a breach of Rule 14-2b, which states that a player must not make a stroke with his caddie, his partner or his partner’s caddie positioned on or close to an extension of the line of play or line of putt behind the ball. O’Toole immediately interrupted Yang’s putt and asked Grice to move to the side. He did so and Yang proceeded to hole the putt for a half in par which left him 1 up in the match.
In match play, when a referee has been assigned to accompany the players throughout a match, he may warn a player that he is about to breach a Rule. If he volunteers information about the Rules, he should do so uniformly to all players (see Decision 34-2/3).
McIlroy’s ball lands in an unusual spot!
During the second round of the Tour Championship, Rory McIlroy’s drive at the 14th hole somehow bounced off a tree and landed in the pocket of a spectator!
Under the Rules of Golf, a spectator is considered to be an outside agency. Rule 19-1 clarifies that if a ball in motion after a stroke other than on the putting green comes to rest in or on any moving or animate outside agency, the ball must through the green or in a hazard be dropped, or on the putting green be placed, as near as possible to the spot directly under the place where the ball came to rest in or on the outside agency, but not nearer the hole.
The referee clarified with the spectator where he had been standing when the ball came to rest in his pocket and McIlroy was required to drop the ball as near as possible to the spot under the point where the ball lay in his pocket, no nearer the hole. It is worth noting that as the ball was immediately recoverable, McIlroy was required to continue with the same ball. Fortunately for McIlroy he had a clear shot to the green and went on to make an easy par.
Watch this incident here.