I am pleased to report that, unlike last year, the 2014 Masters passed without any controversial Rules incidents. One Rules infraction that was not widely reported, probably because it had no significant impact on the leaderboard, was incurred by Luke Donald, resulting in his first round score of 79, instead of the 77 that he thought he had scored. The facts of the penalty were that in making a stroke from a bunker, Donald hit his ball fat and it failed to clear the bunker lip rolling back into the sand. His instinctive reaction was to smack his club into the sand in disgust. I expect there are many of us that can relate to this instinctive act of frustration. However, in doing so, he breached Rule 13-4b, which states that a player may not touch the ground in a hazard with his hand or a club. Of course, there is nothing to stop a player venting their frustration in this way if they have succeeded in extricating their ball from the bunker first.
Although Luke Donald failed to call the penalty on himself, he was suitably contrite when his penalty was explained to him by a Rules Official, before he signed his card. This is what he said about the incident on his Twitter account;
There was another interesting Rules incident at Augusta, but it had nothing to do with the Rules of Golf. Having worn the obligatory tennis shoes during a practice round, the caddie of English amateur, Matthew Fitzpatrick, realised that, due to a long-term foot condition, he would not be able to continue to caddie for his player if he had to wear tennis shoes again. He politely requested that the Augusta National authorities excuse him and allow him to wear his special sandals. His legitimate, and most would think reasonable, request was swiftly turned down, leaving him less than impressed with Augusta officialdom. Here are the reported comments of Fred Ridley, Chairman of the Masters Competition Committee;
"Duncan was told he had to wear tennis shoes like all caddies. We are not treating him any different. I am sure whatever reasons he raised were considered."
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