See how the rules you frequently breach have haunted top PGA Tour players

  • May 5, 2021
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Having been off the game for more than one month, chances are you may have forgotten some rules of the game. Who can blame you, granted that the revised rules of golf were only rolled out in 2019?

To help you refresh your knowledge of rules of golf, T-OFF News highlights five high profile breaches that have seen elite golfers penalized thanks to their ignorance, concentration lapse, dishonesty or blatant arrogance.

Sergio Garcia disqualified for damaging greens with putter

Sergio Garcia was disqualified after the third round of the European Tour’s Saudi International 2019 for damaging multiple greens with his putter during competition. The European Tour officials disqualified him under Rule 1.2a which specifies that players are expected to play in the spirit of the game by acting with integrity, showing consideration to others and taking good care of the course. Though there’s no express penalty under the rule for violation(s), it confers authority on the match Committee to disqualify a player for any serious misconduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game.

Rickie Fowler fury after dropping the ball from shoulder-height

Rickie Fowler was penalized one shot at the WGC-Mexico Championship 2019 for an illegal shoulder-height drop instead of knee-height as per the new rule.  Had Fowler realized the error before playing the next shot and taken the drop again from knee height, he would not have incurred the penalty. The dropping procedure change was made to prevent golfers from having to drop multiple times to take relief. A drop from knee height lessens the likelihood of the ball bouncing and rolling out of the set relief. According to Rule 14.3b, a ball must be dropped straight down from knee height. “Knee height” means the height of a player’s knee when in a standing position. But the player does not have to be in a standing position when the ball is dropped.

Haotong Li in trouble for caddie-assisted putting alignment

Haotong Li was denied a podium finish and $100,000 at the European Tour’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic in 2019 after he was assessed a two stroke penalty for addressing the ball while his caddie was standing behind him in violation of rule 10.2(b) 4. Li was lining up a short putt for birdie on the 72nd green with his caddie standing behind him. His caddie then moved away just as he began to take his stance and he rolled in the putt in what rules officials deemed to be caddie-assisted player alignment.  Rule 10.2(b) 4 states: “The previous prohibition is extended so that, once the player begins taking a stance for the stroke, and until the stroke is made, the player’s caddie must not deliberately stand on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball for any reason”.

A player consults with his caddie

Viktor Hovland penalized for playing the ball from the wrong place  

Viktor Hovland was penalized two strokes in the opening round of The Players Championship after moving his marker in the wrong direction on the green. The Norwegian called the two-shot penalty on himself after a lapse in concentration on the 15th green. “Viktor Hovland was assessed a two-stroke penalty under Rule 14.7 for playing a ball from the wrong place,” a PGA Tour statement read.

Jon Rahm in trouble for picking up the ball on the green without marking

A lapse in concentration almost cost Jon Rahm the 2020 FedEx Cup Play-offs after the then World No. 1 player picked inexplicably picked up his ball on the green before he had marked it.  “I was holding my marker in my pocket, and for some reason I just picked up the ball thinking I marked it already,” he explained.  For his carelessness he was assessed a one stroke penalty as provided for under Rule 14.1a, which provides the procedure for Marking, Lifting and Cleaning Ball: The player must “place a ball marker right behind or right next to your ball, or hold a club on the ground right behind or right next to your ball”. It adds: “If you lift your ball without marking its spot, mark its spot in a wrong way, or make a stroke with a ball marker left in place, you get one penalty stroke.”

Patrick Reed loses Hero World Challenge for improving lie

Reed Patrick Reed lost the hero World Challenge in 2019 after he was given a two-stroke penalty for improving the line of play for his shot. He was caught on camera on the par-5 11th  hole brushing back sand from directly behind the ball with his club after address as he prepared to take his third shot from a buried lie in the waste area. He was penalized for violating Rule 8.1a (4), which prohibits players from removing or pressing down sand or loose soil in order to improve the conditions affecting the stroke.

Jon Rahm in action on the PGA Tour: Courtesy SuperSport

Meanwhile the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship tees off tomorrow at the Quail Hollow Golf Course in Charlotte, North Carolina as elite golfers scramble for the $8.1million prize money.

Eight former champions led by Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and defending champion Max Homa will be up against a star-studded field that includes Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay, Webb Simpson, Xander Schauffele, Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed and Will Zalatoris.

World Golf Hall of Fame member Phil Mickelson will be making his 17th consecutive appearance in Charlotte and holds the tournament record with eight top-five finishes and ten top-ten performances.

Visit www.dstv.com to subscribe or upgrade, and join in on the excitement. And while you’re on the move, you can stream matches on the DStv App.

Wells Fargo Championship broadcast details

All times CAT

Thursday 6 May

20:00: Day 1 – LIVE on SuperSport Golf

Friday 7 May

20:00: Day 2LIVE on SuperSport Golf

Saturday 8 May

19:00: Day 3 – LIVE on SuperSport Golf

22:35: Day 3 – LIVE on SuperSport Grandstand

 and SuperSport Golf

Sunday 9 May

19:00: Day 4 – LIVE on SuperSport Golf

21:30: Day 3 – LIVE on SuperSport Grandstand

 and SuperSport Golf

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