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(22nd July 2012 - Following comments received from knowledgeable sources I have edited my original post. 23rd July Further edits were made) Zach Johnson’s first drop was from the lateral water hazard and he chose option 26-1c(i) by dropping a ball outside the margin of the water hazard within two club-lengths of and not nearer the hole than the point where the original ball last crossed the margin, as designated by the red line. He purposely dropped his ball near to a sprinkler head, so that he could take further relief on the flatter area and might even see his ball roll to the closer mown area just off the rough. When he dropped his ball to the right of the sprinkler head it bounced towards him and in my opinion, to a position where there was no interference with his lie, stance or area of intended swing. However, Carman did allow him to take relief from the immovable obstruction, moving the tee marker to the other side of the sprinkler head, which he adjudged to be the nearest point of relief, not nearer the hole.
Now the fun begins. With guidance from Carman, Zach measured the extent of the one club-length relief from the nearest point of relief and placed his tee in the ground, marking the outside limit of the permitted dropping area. On his first drop his ball hit the tee, sending it into the air. This is the point where some experts think that Steve Carman was wrong, because he asked Zach to replace the tee and drop again. Their point is that the Definition of Equipment excludes any small object used to mark the position of a ball and therefore the drop was valid. This would certainly have been the case if the ball first hit the course within the permitted limit and then rolled against the tee marker. However, in my opinion, this was not the reason why he was required to drop again. Initially, I thought that the reason was that when the ball hit the tee, logically part of it was outside of the limit of the drop area making it an invalid drop. In other words it was not 'within' the one club-length. However, this has been challenged by others and another explanation has been offered that because the ball hit the tee, an obstruction, before it hit the course it had to be dropped again. It just shows that even acknowledged experts on the Rules do not always agree with rulings that are made! The same situation occurred with Johnson’s third and fourth drops. Note that because these drops were ruled invalid they do not count as drops and there is no limit to the number of times a ball must be re-dropped in these circumstances. The fifth drop landed inside the permitted area but then rolled outside causing some viewers to claim that the ball should have been re-dropped. However, under Rule 20-2c(vi) a ball may roll and come to rest up to two club-lengths from where it first struck a part of the course before a re-drop is required. Steve Carman then took a good look to check that the ball had not come to rest nearer to the hole and declared it to be in play.
Zach Johnson went on to make a double bogey on this first playoff hole. Surprisingly, so did Troy Matteson who also had to take relief from the water hazard. So, they had to play the 18th again and this time Zach played a spectacular shot from a fairway bunker to about one foot from the hole and won the tournament with a birdie to Matteson’s par.
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