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Rules, Rules and Yet MORE Broken Rules

By: | Tue 03 Oct 2017 | Comments

OH DEAR, oh dear, oh dear. First it was Matthew Southgate being penalised four shots after a leaf deflected the path on his golf ball. And, yet again, with the eyes of the world looking on during one of the sport's most high profile events, golf makes itself look utterly ridiculous.

Jordan Spieth and Patrick were playing against Jason Day and Louis Oosthuizen in the Presidents Cup at Liberty National. They were on the 12th hole and Day had already made a birdie. Oosthuizen had a chip for an eagle. He struck the ball and when it rolled past the hole, Spieth stopped it and gave it back to the South African.

Before Spieth or Reed could line up their own birdie putts, referee Andy McFee approached Spieth and told him that because he had interfered with his opponent's golf ball while it was still moving he would have to concede the hole. What? The ball had rolled way beyond the hole and unless the laws of gravity were to suddenly change, there was no way that it was going to change course and start running back towards the hole. Hole conceded.

So here we go again with another trawl through some other utterly bizarre rule infractions. We have come up with 10 more for your delectation, and we promise that you are going to struggle to believe that some of these really happened...

Anthony Kim, 2008 HSBC Champions

Anthony Kim was playing in the HSBC Champions in Shanghai and as he walked down the seventh fairway with his driver in his hand it accidentally hit a sprinkler head. The impact put a slight kink in the shaft of the club. On the next hole, Kim pulled out the driver and the ball travelled just 150 yards and also disappeared out of bounds. Puzzled, he put another ball down and hit another dreadful drive. He played two more holes before realising that the shaft of his club had been damaged. He told a rules official, who informed Kim that he was going to have to disqualify him for changing the characteristics of his club in the middle of his round. "I wasn't angry or anything, just walking down the fairway,'' Kim said. "The toe hit the sprinkler, hit the top of the sprinkler, and I looked at it and it looked a little bit different. But I wasn't sure and I put it in my bag.''?

Paul Azinger, 1991 Doral Ryder Open

TV viewers have long been the bane of professional golfers' lives. At the 1991  Doral Ryder Open in Miami. Paul Azinger shot an opening-round 65 and was one shot off the lead at the end of the day. But an eagle-eyed TV viewer saw Azinger's foot kick away a loose piece of coral as he took his stance to chip out of a water hazard. Azinger was taken off the course the following day and made to watch the TV coverage. He said it was unintentional - and it clearly was. But rules are rules and he should have had a two-shot penalty. Because he had signed his card, he was disqualified.

Morgan Pressel, 2012 Sybase Matchplay

During the 2012 Sybase Matchplay, Morgan Pressel found herself in hot water after making a par at the 12th hole. She was three up on Azahara Munoz, but she was informed she was being penalised for slow play. Pressel had taken two minutes and nine seconds to play her three shots on the hole, putting her 39 seconds over the 30-second limit per shot. As a result, the hole was awarded to Munoz, who would go on to win the match and win the tournament.

Roberto De Vicenzo 1968 Masters

This was a heartbreaker, and led to Roberto De Vicenzo, from Argentina, uttering the immortal line: "What a stupid I am!" The 1967 Open champion cost himself a chance of a playoff in the 1968 Masters when he signed an incorrect scorecard. What made the mistake even more painful is that it was playing partner, Tommy Aaron, who had marked a four instead of a birdie three on De Vicenzo's card at the 17th hole. Because De Vicenzo signed his card without checking the numbers properly it could not be altered and Bob Goalby collected the Green Jacket. At least poor old Roberto had the consolation of being Open champion at the time.

Porky Oliver 1940 US Open

We are forever complaining about how long today's players take to complete a round of golf. With a potential storm on the horizon, Porky Oliver and five fellow competitors decided to tee off early for their final round at the 1940 US Open. They did so with the blessing of the official starter and Oliver shot a 71. It was good enough to get him into a playoff  with Gene Sarazen and Lawson Little. However, he was disqualified because he had started before his designated start time.

Ryuji Imada, 2010 Mission Hills Star Trophy

A two-shot penalty is bad enough, but Ryuji Imada suffered what is surely professional golf's record penalty at the Mission Hills Star Trophy in 2010 when he breached a local rule. Oh yes, there are rules, and then there are local rules. Because of rain, the players were allowed to lift, clean and place on the fairway. Imada, who played most of his golf on the PGA Tour, assumed that he was able to place his ball within one club-length of its original spot, as was the case in America. Oh no. The event was sanctioned by the Asian and European Tours, whose local rule states that players can place the ball only within the length of one scorecard of its original position. Danny Lee pointed out the infraction to Imada when they reached the 12th hole. Imada told rules officials after the round. They asked him how many times he had replaced his ball further away than the length of the scorecard and he estimated that he had done so on 13 occasions. It meant he was given THIRTEEN two-stroke penalties and had to sign for a round of 97. He didn't win the tournament.

Raymond Floyd, 1987 Players Championship

Raymond Floyd's caddie walked ahead of him before he teed off on the 11th hole at TPC Sawgrass. When the caddie reached the yardage around where Floyd was likely to end up, he put the golf bag down in the rough with the top portion facing the tee. Floyd's wayward tee shot rolled into the rough and finished up inside his own golf bag. He suffered a two-shot penalty because he had violated "Rule 19-2: Ball deflected or stopped by equipment of player or partner." Same player, same tournament, same round. There was a rain delay and when the players returned to the course, Floyd asked Seve Ballesteros, his playing partner, if it was all right for him to hit a few golf balls into the woods before play officially resumed because he wanted to warm up. Seve told him he was sure that was OK. It wasn't. Floyd had broken That Rule 33-2c, prohibiting players from practicing in non-practice areas on any day or between rounds of a strokeplay competition. Another two-shot penalty. Floyd knew it wasn't his day.

Guan Tianlang, 2013 Masters

Guan made headlines when he sensationally qualified for The Masters at the age of 14. He was a boy who clearly had some game and he loved every minute of his first experience of playing the hollowed turf at Augusta. Well, perhaps not every minute. We all hate slow play, and we all know that it is the curse of professional golf. The time some players take over shots is excruciating. Unbelievably, the powers-that-be at Augusta decided to make an example of Guan, penalising him a shot for slow play. Everybody agreed that it was ridiculous, and it did the Masters Committee no favours at all. Fortunately, Guan kept it all together and rolled in a 15-footer on his 36th hole to make the cut.

Ben Crane, 2017 Albertsons Boise Open

Ben Crane noticed just before teeing off on his second hole of the day that there was a small sticker on his driver -- something he had used in practice sessions to collect data with his launch monitor, and something that could not possibly alter the characteristics of the club. He hadn't even used the club. He called over a rules official to ask if he should just take the sticker off the club and was informed that the club was non-conforming and was assessed a two-stroke penalty for each hole that the breach occurred. Even though he hadn't played his second hole, he was on the tee, so had to add four shots to his score. And it got worse. A few holes later, Crane discovered another sticker on his six iron. The penalty? "Two strokes for each hole at which any breach occurred; maximum penalty per round is four strokes - two strokes at each of the first two holes at which any breach occurred." What would have been par fours on those two holes suddenly became eights (remember, he had already received two-shot penalties for the driver sticker). And, erm, it got worse still. Crane was disqualified the next day for failing to declare to either an official or a playing partner that his six iron had a sticker on it.

Dustin Johnson, 2016 US Open

The Dustinator led Shane Lowry by a shot after 13 holes of the final round of the US Open when he was told that rules officials were looking at footage of something that had happened on the fifth green. Johnson had called in a rules official while preparing to putt on the fifth, explaining that his ball had moved a fraction but he was certain that he hadn't caused it to do so. He was told to play on without penalty. However, as the round continued, officials took a closer look at the video and believed Johnson had caused the ball to move. If he had done so, it would mean a one-shot penalty. While trying to win his first major, and after several painful near-misses, Johnson was told that a decision would not be made until he completed his round. So now he didn't know if he still led by one or was tied with Lowry. In the end, it was academic because Johnson put the whole sorry saga behind him and won by three strokes, even though he was penalised.

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