The R&A - Working for Golf

Rules on Tour - 2020 Restart

The return of professional golf also brought with it a number of Rules incidents, including the two cases from the PGA Championship, held at TPC Harding Park from 6-9 August, 2020.

Rory McIlroy – Harding Park (PGA Championship)

In the second round of the PGA Championship, McIlroy’s tee shot at the par-3 third hole found some dense rough to the right of the green. During the search, one of the on-course reporters accidentally stepped on McIlroy’s ball, causing it to move.

Under Rule 7.4, there is no penalty if a player’s ball is accidentally moved by the player or anyone else while trying to find or identify it, but the ball must be replaced on its original spot. The original spot includes the vertical location relative to the ground and if the ball was at rest on, under or against growing or attached natural object.

After feeling that the initial replacement of his ball was too generous, given the likelihood that the reporter would not have stepped on the ball had it been resting near the surface of the grass, McIlroy showed great sportsmanship by being honest about the situation and placing the ball deeper into the grass. While McIlroy’s act of integrity was not rewarded on the hole, as he went on to make bogey after failing to get the ball up and down from the worsened lie, his actions were widely praised by golf fans who saw the incident.

Bryson DeChambeau – Harding Park (PGA Championship)

One of the main talking points since the return of professional golf has been the significant change in physique of Bryson DeChambeau. His new combination of swinging the driver as fast as possible and an increase in physical strength lead to an unusual situation in the first round of the PGA Championship, where after his tee shot at the par-4 seventh hole, DeChambeau leant on his driver while picking up his tee, causing the shaft of the driver to snap near the head of the club.

Under Rule 4.1b(3), if a player who started with 14 clubs loses or damages a club during a round, it must not be replaced unless the damage was caused by an outside influence or natural forces, or by someone other than the player or his or her caddie. However fortunately for DeChambeau, Local Rule G-9 was in place for the event, which modifies Rule 4.1b(3) so that if a player’s club is broken or significantly damaged during the round by the player or caddie, except in cases of abuse, the player may replace the club with any club under Rule 4.1b(4).

Once it was established that the damage was clearly accidental, DeChambeau was allowed to immediately take the broken club out of play, and have a replacement shaft brought out to him. The new shaft arrived in time for his tee shot on the ninth.

Azahara Muñoz – Highland Meadows  GC (Marathon LPGA Classic) and Cameron Tringale – Harding Park (PGA Championship)

The following examples highlight the importance of making sure that your scorecard is correctly filled out and certified following a stroke play round, in accordance with Rule 3.3b. The requirements for returning a scorecard are straightforward, but it is vital that players know their responsibilities, as mistakes can often lead to disqualification. Azahara Muñoz and Cameron Tringale both learned this the hard way, as they were each disqualified from their respective tournaments, for different issues with their scorecards.

Muñoz was disqualified for forgetting to sign her scorecard at the conclusion of her final round of the Marathon LPGA Classic. Once a round is completed, players must certify their hole scores on the scorecard and promptly return it to the Committee, after which the player must not change the scorecard. Signing the scorecard in order to certify their score is the responsibility of the player and Muñoz was disqualified for failing to do so in this case.

Tringale did remember to sign his scorecard, but did so for a lower score than he actually scored on the eighth hole following his second round at the PGA Championship. It is the player’s responsibility to confirm their score with the marker after each hole during the round, and when the round has ended the hole scores should be carefully checked before certification. If a returned score turns out to be lower than the actual score that a player had on a hole, then the player is disqualified, which was the case for Tringale.