Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Carl Pettersson’s Ball Moved by Another Ball

Thankfully, the 2013 US Open Championship at Merion GC, Pennsylvania, will be remembered for challenging golf conditions rather than contentious Rules situations, but there was one highly unusual incident that caught my attention. It occurred to Swede, Carl Pettersson, on the morning of the second day, during his weather-disrupted opening round. As he started his backswing for his second stroke on the 5th hole, an errant ball played from a player on the 2nd hole rolled across the fairway colliding with his ball and knocking it several feet away. Watch his surprise as the ball that he was about to strike is deflected away nearly hitting his foot.

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A stray ball is an outside agency. The part of the Definition of Outside Agency that relates to stroke play states;
In stroke play, an outside agency is any agency other than the competitor’s side, any caddie of the side, any ball played by the side at the hole being played or any equipment of the side.
An outside agency includes a referee, a marker, an observer and a forecaddie. Neither wind nor water is an outside agency.
Other examples of outside agencies on a golf course are objects that are moved by the wind, animals, reptiles and birds, spectators, course furniture and balls that players themselves have not put in play.

After Carl Pettersson‘s ball had been moved by the stray ball he did follow the correct procedure by replacing his ball on the spot where it was and there was no penalty. Fortunately, he managed to put this unusual incident behind him and made par for the hole. Rule 18-1 is the relevant Rule, Ball at Rest Moved by Outside Agency;

If a ball at rest is moved by an outside agency, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced.
The stray ball in motion, which had been played by another player from another group, had to be played from where it came to rest after being accidentally deflected by Pettersson’s ball at rest. The relevant part of Rule 19-1 states;
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.....
When asked about the freak incident on the 5th hole, Pettersson said,
"I was getting ready to go and pulled the club back and a ball bounced and hit my ball, so I managed to stop. I've never seen that or experienced that before. Luckily I wasn't in my down swing because if I would have missed the ball I don't know what the ruling would have been on that.”
Well, if he had missed his ball it would have unfortunately been counted as a stroke, as he intended to hit it, but there would have been no additional penalty under Rule 18-2, Ball Moving After Address, because it was obviously known that he did not cause his ball to move, Decision 18-2b/11. I covered the subject of a ball moving after address on this blog.

What if Carl had not jumped out of the way and his ball had hit him on his foot? No penalty would have been incurred for him deflecting the ball as the Rules required him to replace the ball where it was as soon as it was moved by the outside agency. If he failed to replace his ball he would incur a penalty of two strokes under Rule 20-7a(ii) for playing from a wrong place. (This paragraph edited June 20th 2013).

If any of the above has confused you, try to at least remember one of the guiding principles of the Rules of Golf; a player is entitled to the lie and line of play that they had when their ball came to rest.

Another minor Rules incident occurred on the final day at Merion when Rory McIlroy bent his 9-iron in frustration, having struck two balls in succession into the water hazard on the par-4 11th hole, resulting in a quadruple bogey 8. Follow this link to see how he did it and a brief explanation of the ruling from Senior Rules Director, USGA, Thomas Pagel (following the advertisement).

Good Golfing,

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