NZ Golf Inc.'s Phil Aickin gives his views on is­sues sur­round­ing the rules.

New Zealand Golf Magazine - - CONTENTS -

The cel­e­bra­tion of Seve

Balles­teros after mak­ing a birdie putt on the 18th green at St.An­drews in 1984 to win the Open Cham­pi­onship, or the charge and even­tual win for Jack Nick­laus at the 1986 Mas­ters, and of course the spe­cial win for our own Michael Camp­bell at the 2005 United States Open. Our mod­ern-day cov­er­age with high def­i­ni­tion, drones and well placed cam­eras brings the drama right in to our lounge and I for one watch nearly every minute. We ex­pe­ri­ence the drama and emo­tion of the win­ner and what bet­ter ex­am­ple in Ser­gio Gar­cia when he won his green jacket at the Mas­ters this year in what was his 74th ma­jor cham­pi­onship. But oc­ca­sion­ally some ma­jor cham­pi­onships have been re­mem­bered be­cause of a high-pro­file rules in­ci­dent that oc­curred, rather than the golf that was played and fol­low­ing the Open Cham­pi­onship at Royal Birk­dale, it is fair to say that per­haps an­other has been added to the list.

Here's a reminder of some of the most con­tro­ver­sial.

1958 US Mas­ters. Arnold Palmer was first de­nied relief from an em­bed­ded ball on the 12th hole in the fi­nal round, record­ing a dou­ble bo­gey five. But he played a sec­ond ball, made par and found out two holes later that the par counted. Ten­sion re­mained for years be­tween he and play­ing part­ner Ken Ven­turi.

1968 US Mas­ters, won by Bob Goalby when Roberto de Vi­cenzo fa­mously signed for a wrong score on the 17th hole. He made birdie but signed for a par four. The mis­take cost the Ar­gen­tinian a play­off the next day and handed Goalby his only Ma­jor ti­tle.

2010 US PGA at Whistling Straits. Play­ing the 72nd hole Dustin John­son had a one stroke lead, but video ev­i­dence showed that in play­ing his sec­ond shot he grounded his club in a bunker, even­tu­ally re­sult­ing in a twostroke penalty and a win to Martin Kaymer.

2016 US Open. Whilst Dustin John­son went on to win his victory was over shad­owed by a penalty he re­ceived on the 5th green for the frac­tional move­ment of his golf ball when pre­par­ing to putt. What com­pounded the sit­u­a­tion was the way in which it was han­dled cre­at­ing a storm of me­dia re­ac­tion.

2017 ANA In­spi­ra­tional. Still fresh in our minds is the four-stroke penalty handed to Lexi Thomp­son in the fi­nal round of the year's first ma­jor cham­pi­onship. In the third round, video ev­i­dence re­vealed that Thomp­son re-placed her ball on the 17th green in a dif­fer­ent po­si­tion, there­fore play­ing from a wrong place. A change to the Rules of Golf saved her from what would have been a dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion, but nearly 24 hours later she was still as­sessed a four-stroke penalty that she was un­able to re­cover from. So Yeon Ryu went on to beat Thomp­son in a play­off.

Now we can add the 2017 Open Cham­pi­onship due to the 13th hole in the fi­nal round when Jor­dan Spi­eth took an age to iden­tify his drop­ping po­si­tion after he de­clared his ball un­playable. The hole took nearly 30 min­utes to play and one must ad­mire his play­ing part­ner, Matt Kuchar, for the pa­tience he dis­played.

Spi­eth started the round with a three-stroke lead over Kuchar, but ner­vous play saw that evap­o­rate and stand­ing on the 13th tee he was tied for the lead. His drive went sharp right and buried in a sand dune well to the right of the fair­way in a po­si­tion that was un­playable. It is never a nice op­tion to re­turn to the tee for the stroke and dis­tance penalty and drop­ping within two club lengths would not guar­an­tee him a lie that he could re­cover from. That left one op­tion, which was to keep that point and the hole in line and go back as far as he liked. For­tu­nately for Spi­eth, the driv­ing range was in play and his ex­tended line passed through equip­ment trucks which were parked in a po­si­tion that would have been con­sid­ered well out of play. But not with the an­gle that Spi­eth was work­ing with and it took 20 min­utes, for of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Chief Ref­eree John Paramor, to de­ter­mine where he could drop which would en­able him to take tem­po­rary im­mov­able ob­struc­tion relief out on to the driv­ing range. From there he would be well over 220 me­tres from the hole play­ing his third shot and when he holed a lengthy par putt he only dropped one stroke and for the first time Kuchar had the lead.

His­tory will show that Spi­eth played the last five holes in five un­der par, one of the most dra­matic fin­ishes to any ma­jor, but for the im­me­di­ate fu­ture this phe­nom­e­nal run will be over­shad­owed by the events that un­folded on the 13th hole. Spi­eth han­dled it well and it is a good in­di­ca­tion of a player un­der­stand­ing the rules enough to help him take the best op­tion pos­si­ble.

Bring on more Seve and Ser­gio mo­ments!!!

Jor­dan Spi­eth with Rules Of­fi­cials dur­ing the 146th Open Cham­pi­onship at Royal Birk­dale.

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