Friday, 2 March 2012

Lee Westwood's Ball in Lady's Shirt - Rule 19-1

Lee Westwood experienced an unusual rub of the green during his Accenture Match Play semi-final against Rory McIlroy last Saturday. His tee shot on the par-5 13th hole was pulled a long way left into a crowd of spectators. His ball bounced once and came to rest lodged in the sweater of a lady spectator. Fortunately, she was not harmed in any way and it was all smiles as Westwood awkwardly approached her to find that his ball was still down the back of her yellow sweater. He left another spectator, her husband perhaps, to retrieve his ball and hand it back to him.

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Here are the main points to remember if the same thing happens to you;
•    A spectator is an outside agency.
•    The reference point is where the ball first came to rest in or on the outside agency (in this video, the reference point would not have changed had the lady had walked 250 yards nearer to the hole with the ball lodged in her shirt, as requested by Westwood’s caddie!).
•    Except on the putting green, the ball must be dropped and not placed (Nick Faldo famously got this wrong a few years ago and engaged in an embarrassing encounter with an intimidated, but unyielding Swedish Rules Official, which is now regularly shown on training courses for Referees).
•    If a ball is deflected or stopped by an outside agency following a stroke on the putting green (obviously, far less common) the procedure is different.

Here is the wording of the relevant Rule 19-1;
If a player’s ball in motion is accidentally deflected or stopped by any outside agency, it is a rub of the green, there is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies, except:
a. If a player’s 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, and
b. If a player’s ball in motion after a stroke on the putting green is deflected or stopped by, or comes to rest in or on, any moving or animate outside agency, except a worm, insect or the like, the stroke is cancelled. The ball must be replaced and replayed.
If the ball is not immediately recoverable, another ball may be substituted.
This incident, captured on video, obviously provided a good opportunity for me to explain a Rule that is often misunderstood, so I am holding the second part of my blog on ‘Differences on Match Play Rules’ until next week.

Good golfing,

P.S. If you have been receiving the 'Rhodes Rules School' photo series you may be interested to hear that, having updated the complete set of 99 issues with the January amendments to the Rules, I have now made them available as a downloadable file for just US $7.99 / EU €5.99 / St £4.99. Just login to PayPal and make payment to my account (barry at barryrhodes dot com) and I will fulfil your request the same day.

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