Saturday, 8 October 2011

Rory McIlroy - When Is a Wrong Ball Not a Wrong Ball

Last week the subject of my blog was, “When Is a Stroke Not a Stroke?” This week you will have seen that I have used a similar heading. On the third day of Kolon Korea Open Rory McIlroy was playing the Par-4 12th when an unusual incident happened. He had already hit his first ball out of bounds and his second ball was lying in the rough. As he was taking a practice swing he hit another ball, which he had not seen. At first, a Rules official penalised him two strokes for playing a wrong ball, but this incorrect ruling was quickly revised. As we saw in last week’s blog a stroke is not a stroke unless the player intends to hit the ball. As Rory did not even know that the abandoned ball was in the path of his practice swing there was no penalty. Decision 7-2/7 clarifies the ruling;
Q. A player makes a practice swing in the rough and dislodges a concealed ball. Is there any penalty?
A. No. Since the player had no intention of striking the concealed ball, his swing remained a practice swing and was not a stroke. Consequently, there is no question of his having played either a practice stroke (Rule 7-2) or a stroke with a wrong ball (Rule 15-3).
It seems from the reports that I have seen that Rory did not query the penalty that was originally assessed on him. Here is what he said,
“And after I hit my first ball out of bounds, I then hit my second in the rough and as I was taking a practice swing I hit another ball which I didn’t see and at first the rules official said that I had played a wrong ball. I had no intention of hitting it, but I got it up and down with the other ball and thought I had made seven, but the rules official then said it was okay and I actually made five.”

Of course, if a player moves their own ball that is in play with a practice swing it is a different story. They incur a penalty of one stroke and their ball must be replaced, Rule 18-2a.

Good golfing,

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