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There were four, high-profile Rules incidents over the past week; two of them occurring in the same match play semi-final. The most recent one was at Wentworth yesterday when Graeme McDowell was penalised two strokes under Rule 18-2a. A penalty of one stroke for causing his ball to move (fractionally) was increased to the general penalty of two strokes when he failed to replace the ball where it was before he caused it to move (penalty statement under Rule 18). Unfortunately, whilst we can see the ball move in the short video clip above, we cannot see whether McDowell was actually looking at his ball when it moved, as he stood on loose branches a few feet away. For once I salute the TV commentator; Renton Laidlaw, who was spot on in recognizing the breach and immediately suggested, “Another call for one of the army of referees, do you think?” McDowell said that he was not sure whether his ball had moved, but he certainly knows that if there is any doubt the referee should be called. It would have saved him a penalty stroke.
The semi-final of LPGA’s Sybase Match Play Championship threw up two interesting Rules situations. Azahara Munoz (Spain) and Morgan Pressel (USA) had been warned about slow play, even though there were only four players out on the course, and were put on the clock after 11 holes. Ironically, even though Munoz admitted that she had been the slower player of the two until then, it was Pressel who breached the Tour’s slow play guideline by taking 2 minutes and 9 seconds to play her three shots, 39 seconds over the 30-second limit per shot. As she made her putt Pressel thought that she had won the hole to go 3 up with 7 to play, when she was notified that she had lost the hole, due to her breach of Rule 6-7 for slow play. She was therefore only 1 up, Munoz having ‘won’ the hole. One can imagine how this ruling affected Pressel’s disposition and probably contributed to the ensuing controversy on the 15th hole. The American player contended that the Spaniard touched the putting green on her line of putt whilst preparing for her stroke, a breach of Rule 16-1a. The match referee asked officials to review the available videotape of what had happened on the putting green and they reported that they were not able to see any evidence of the Rule being broken. Munoz then made her putt to win the hole and bring the match to all square. Pressel, whose mind must have been frazzled at this stage, bogeyed the next two holes to lose 2 and 1. Azahara Munoz went on to beat Candie Kung in the final and take her first LPGA Tour win.
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a. Selection and Addition of ClubsInterestingly, although he could select any 4 clubs from his own set he declined to take the putter, as the one that he had purchased was performing so well for him. Like all good stories this one had a happy ending for Snedeker, as he won his match against Bjorn 5 and 4.
The player must not start a stipulated round with more than fourteen clubs. He is limited to the clubs thus selected for that round, except that if he started with fewer than fourteen clubs, he may add any number, provided his total number does not exceed fourteen.
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