Friday, July 29, 2016

Jordan Spieth averts disaster, rules controversy on solid Friday

 

SPRINGFIELD, N.J.—Golf’s rules have altered one of this year’s major championships, and golf bureaucracy may have cost players a shot at making the cut at the PGA Championship, so you can forgive Jordan Spieth for being veeeeery careful with the application of rules on Friday afternoon.

Spieth’s tee shot at the 7th hole, the 16th Spieth had played, drifted right, right, right into about an inch of water. Said water was atop a cart path. Said cart path was behind a thick evergreen tree that blocked any clear path to the green. Spieth was entitled to relief of some sort, but what? How?

Because I am cruel, and because golf is a rules-obsessed game, I am presenting the entire explanation from the PGA of America. Gather round the fire and read this one to your family:

Jordan Spieth’s ball came to rest in casual water on an artificially surfaced path. He called for a Rules Official and Brad Gregory, former PGA of America Rules Chair, was present to provide help.
Jordan selected a club and demonstrated a swing and direction that he would have used, if there were no casual water present (Decision 24-2b/1). This stroke and direction was toward the hole. After going thru the relief procedure, the ball was in play on the artificially surfaced path and clear from his stance and swing for the direction and type of shot he originally chose to play. Once the ball was dropped and in play, Jordan had the option to select another type of stroke or another type of club to actually play the shot and he chose to play a stroke to the right of a tree in an attempt to try to hook the ball toward the green.

In this case, Jordan elected to play in a different direction of play based on Decision 20-2c/0.8. Jordan was entitled to either play the ball as it lay, even if his stance was still in the casual water or, he could have elected to take relief again from the casual water under this different type of stroke that he then elected to play.

Decision 24-2b/1
Determining “Nearest Point of Relief”

Q.The Note to the Definition of “Nearest Point of Relief” provides that the player should determine this point by using “the club with which he would have made his next stroke if the condition were not there to simulate the address position, direction of play and swing for such stroke.” May the player use any club, address position, direction of play or swing in determining the nearest point of relief?
A.No. In determining the nearest point of relief accurately it is recommended that the player use the club, address position, direction of play and swing (right or left-handed) that he would have used had the obstruction or condition not been there. For example, the player has interference from an immovable obstruction and, were it not for the obstruction, he would have used a right-handed stroke with a 4-iron to play the ball from its original position towards the green. To determine the nearest point of relief accurately, he should use a right-handed stroke with a 4-iron and the direction of play should be towards the green. See also Decisions 20-2c/0.7 and 20-2c/0.8.

Decision 20-2c/0.8
Player Takes Relief from an Area of Ground Under Repair; Whether Re-Drop Required if Condition Interferes for Stroke with Club Not Used to Determine “Nearest Point of Relief”

Q.A player finds his ball in heavy rough approximately 230 yards from the green. He selects a wedge to play his next shot and finds that his stance touches a line defining an area of ground under repair. He determines the nearest point of relief and drops the ball within one club-length of this point. The ball rolls into a good lie from where he believes he can play a 3-wood for his next stroke. If the player used a wedge for his next stroke he would not have interference from the ground under repair, but adopting a normal stance with the 3-wood, he again touches the ground under repair with his foot. Must the player re-drop his ball under Rule 20-2c?

A.No. The player proceeded in accordance with Rule 25-1b by determining his nearest point of relief using the club with which he expected to play his next stroke and he would only be required to re-drop the ball under Rule 20-2c if interference still existed for a stroke with this club – see analogous Decision 20-2c/0.7.

As it was expedient for the player to play his next stroke with another club, which resulted in interference from the condition, he would have the option of playing the ball as it lies or proceeding again under Rule 25-1b.

Aw yeah, that’s the good stuff. There was some concern that Spieth would be nailed with a rules violation, possibly one that could cost him a stroke or two, or worse, but Spieth saw the danger inherent in leaving anything to chance, and made sure the rules official signed off on everything he was doing.

“I would have never hit it if I was not told it was OK by a rules official,” Spieth said after the round. “He told me it was fine. Really don’t know why we’re talking about it, to be honest.”

The rules controversy was the highlight of an otherwise decent but basically routine day. Spieth carded five birdies against two bogeys, all but the seventh-hole bogey coming on the back nine, the first holes Spieth played. He left birdie opportunities all over the front nine, but fortunately played well enough to stay within sight of the top of the leaderboard. He finished the afternoon at -3, good enough to make the cut but still six strokes behind clubhouse leader Jimmy Walker. He’ll tee off about an hour before the leaders on Saturday and look to narrow that time come Sunday.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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