Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Matsuyama Wins Memorial without a Driver

There were at least three interesting Rules incidents at last week’s Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village, Dublin, Ohio.

Hideki Matsuyama stepped up to the teeing ground of his final hole needing a birdie to force a playoff with Kevin Na, who had finished more than two hours earlier at 13 under. The young and rising Japanese star pushed his drive into trees, but his ball took a favourable bounce and landed back on the fairway. This was not enough to stop him venting his frustration at the bad shot by slamming his driver into the ground, splintering the shaft and rendering it unplayable. However, his next stroke was a beauty, leaving him a clutch, five foot putt to equal Na’s total, which he comfortably made. Now, this is the interesting Rules question. As Matsuyama’s driver was not damaged in the normal course of play he was not permitted to replace it during the stipulated round (see this blog of mine on damaging clubs in anger). But this does not apply to a play-off, which constitutes a new round, Decision 4-3/12, so Matsuyama was entitled to replace his broken club. Unfortunately, he did not have a spare driver in his locker (!) and had to drive again from the 18th teeing ground with his 3-wood, finding a fairway bunker. Nevertheless, he put his bunker shot to about 10 feet and then made the putt to beat Na, who bogeyed this first playoff hole.

Justin Rose found himself in the Rules news again after calling a penalty on himself at the side of the 12th green on Friday. Apparently he still called over a Rules Official as he was confusingly reported to say;

“It was pretty obvious, I wanted them to verify that it wasn’t a triple hit. After what happened at TPC (Sawgrass) I wanted to make sure.”
Surely, he should know that the penalty is still one stroke if he had hit his ball three times with a single stroke! Rule 14-4 states;
If a player’s club strikes the ball more than once in the course of a stroke, the player must count the stroke and add a penalty stroke, making two strokes in all.
Well those two were pretty straightforward, but how about this one. Was Scott Langley’s putt holed after his 10 foot putt on the par-3 16th hole on the final day? Below is the wording of the relevant Rule 16-2; read it and then take a look at the video clip and make your own decision!
When any part of the ball overhangs the lip of the hole, the player is allowed enough time to reach the hole without unreasonable delay and an additional ten seconds to determine whether the ball is at rest. If by then the ball has not fallen into the hole, it is deemed to be at rest. If the ball subsequently falls into the hole, the player is deemed to have holed out with his last stroke, and must add a penalty stroke to his score for the hole; otherwise, there is no penalty under this Rule.

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Good Golfing,

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Anonymous said...

If the ball is still moving, as the commentator says, I assume the player gets to wait until the movement stops before the time starts. And who would determine whether or not the ball is in motion?

dick kusleika said...

Yes, it was holed. And he should add a penalty stroke. I had him at 16 seconds of waiting, some of which was done from his original position and some of which was done near the hole.

Anonymous said...

Scott LANGLEY took all his Time to move up to THE hole ,but THE ball fell in THE hole before THE 10 s alllowed .As for me ,hé holes THE put .
Correct or incorrect ?

Jane said...

The commentator says the ball is still moving. Does that make any difference?

Barry Rhodes said...

Thanks for the four comments above. In my opinion, Feherty was talking rubbish; it would be impossible for the eye to perceive movement of a ball which probably travelled less than 1/10th inch over approximately 25 seconds. Langley's ball is likely have come to rest for at least part of that time and then began moving again due to a breeze, gravity or grasses returning to their original position.

If I was pressed for a ruling I would have added a stroke to Langley's score, as in my opinion he was near enough to where the ball was overhanging the hole whilst he stood staring at it, for the clock to have started running. It seemed to me that he had given up on the ball falling in the hole when he walked closer to it and then stopped to watch it again. The Rules Officials obviously decided that this is when the 10 seconds started and I am happy to go along with them, but I would have ruled differently.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm, interesting one. I would probably add a penalty too, but for a different reason. The rule says he is allowed time to REACH the hole and I don't think he makes any attempt to reach the hole for about 8 seconds. So I wouldn't agree that he was necessarily near enough to the hole while he was standing where he hit the putt. However, I would argue perhaps that there was an unreasonable delay before he decided to move towards the hole. Once he does reach the hole he is there for less than ten seconds before the ball drops in - this is ok under the rule as it says that the ten seconds is allowed "..to determine whether the ball is at rest..." and he is clearly trying to do this. So a penalty for me for the unreasonable delay. As regards Feherty's comments, I don't think he is talking rubbish in that he is correct to say that a player is not allowed to hit a moving ball. Whether or not Feherty can see this from his viewing point is another issue - he may have a much closer camera available to him to confidently say "..this ball is still moving.." Jim Halpenny

Tony Zendle said...

I recall at my club someone wheeling his trolley around the green "to save time" after putting and overhanging, whereupon after what seemed like an eternity the ball finally fell into the hole as he walked up to it.

To me this is a Rule waiting for a Decision which would come with a definition of "unreasonable delay".

Barry Rhodes said...


I understand your point, but will make another point. If a player marks their ball on the putting green, cleans it, replaces it at rest, prepares to putt and the ball falls into the hole, they are deemed to have holed out with their last putt. The 10 seconds limit after the player reaches the hole is designed to stop undue delay in play and so the circumstances that you described seem reasonable to me.


Dagbone said...


I think the 10-second clock starts ticking the moment the player realizes that the first part of the rule -- "When any part of the ball overhangs the lip of the hole" -- is TRUE. In other words, if the player is in position to conclude that his ball is overhanging the lip of the hole, he has by definition "reached the hole".

Consequently, I believe your assertion that "he (Langley) was near enough to where the ball was overhanging the hole whilst he stood staring at it, for the clock to have started running" is absolutely correct, and he should have been penalized.