Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Kim Hyung-tae Grounds Club in a Hazard – Or Did He?

There was a rather unusual Rules incident last Sunday in which a player disagreed with a ruling and so did three members of the event Rules Committee, but the player, Kim Hyung-tae, was penalised two strokes anyway, which meant that he lost the Korean Open title by one stroke.

Although there have been some reports that the hazard margin was poorly marked on the par-3, island green 13th hole at the 2013 Kolon Korean Open, it seems that this was not relevant to the ruling, as Kim was adamant that he had not grounded his club anyway. The ruling was originally made by the officials as Kim stood on the 17th tee, thinking that he held a two shot lead. He was deemed to have grounded a club in the area defined as a water hazard on the 13th hole. However, after the round was completed he returned to the scene and pleaded his case with officials for over an hour and twenty minutes. The Korean Golf Association Rules Committee apparently took the unusual step of taking a vote after viewing the available TV evidence and by a split vote of five against three, ruled that Kim had breached Rule 13-4, incurring a penalty of two strokes.

This is what Decision 13-4/8 states re grounding a club;

Q. If a player's ball lies in a water hazard, when is his club in tall grass considered to be touching the ground in the water hazard, in breach of Rule 13-4b?

A. When the grass is compressed to the point where it will support the weight of the club (i.e., when the club is grounded).
Now have a look at the admittedly limited video evidence of the incident. The only clip that I can find is at 5 mins 9 secs on the official event, final day highlights video, which many observers think is inconclusive. Unfortunately, the clip is edited away to the trophy ceremony at the crucial moment.  Remember, that a player may touch growing grass in the hazard during a practice swing, but they must not ground their club.



The two stroke penalty meant that Kim Hyung-tai lost the Korean Open title by one stroke to his good friend Kang Sung-hoon, finishing tied for 2nd place along with Rory McIlroy and three other Korean golfers.

Good Golfing,


 


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4 comments:

John said...

It looked as if he may have grounded the club although the video was not conclusive. In case of doubt, I guess the ruling is usually against the player. Also, he takes more than one practice swing. It is hugely likely that, after the first practice swing, there would be some little bits of broken off blades of grass, which the second practice swing would then move and that would be a penalty for moving loose impediment, also two strokes!

Barry Rhodes said...

John,

I think that when there is serious doubt about the circumstances of a possible breach most Rules Officials will give the benefit of doubt to the player. You are correct that when a player displaces blades of grass with their practice swing, making them loose impediments, they will then breach Rule 13-4 if they move the loose impediments with their club while their ball is still in the same hazard.

Barry

John said...

Hi Barry
This question as to benefit of doubt came up. In fact a common one is judging where the boundary line is on water hazards, particularly where the "natural boundary" protrudes past the straight line between stakes.
When I search on R&A site - nearly all the rulings where there is doubt seem to be against the player. E.g. 14/1.5 26-1/9 16-1a/1 21/3 13-4/3.5.
There are very few decisions where the player is given the benefit of doubt. It's not very clear what the principles are regarding the benefit of doubt.

Barry Rhodes said...

John,

You are right, this can be a confusing area. As I said in a previous comment, I think that where there is serious doubt about the circumstances of a possible breach on the course most Rules Officials (and most fellow competitors) will give the benefit of doubt to the player. However, when a dispute reaches a Committee they have to consider the rights of all the other players in the competition and should resolve any doubt against the player. This is only my opinion; I am not referencing any Rule or Decision.

Barry