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hona McRae, R&A assistant director – Rules, was right on hand to assist Lydia Ko with a ruling when a spectator picked up her ball during the women’s Olympic golf event…
Not only did Lydia Ko and Justin Rose both experience the highs of an Olympic hole-in-one and collecting an Olympic medal, but both also fell victim to spectators picking up their balls during the Olympic golf events in Rio de Janeiro.
Enthusiastic spectators lined the fairways for both the men’s and ladies’ golf at the Olympic course within the Marapendi reserve in Barra da Tijuca this August to witness the battle for gold, silver and bronze. When Rose’s tee shot on the 2nd hole in the final round of the men’s competition came to rest outside the ropes and was
Spicked up by an excited spectator eager to get a good look at the ball, there was no penalty to Rose as it had been moved by an outside agency.
A spectator is an outside agency as they are not part of the competitor’s side. However, it is not permissible to just assume that an outside agency has lifted or moved the ball – there needs to be some evidence to confirm this. With TV footage and many witnesses around to confirm that the lady had indeed picked up the ball, Rose was entitled to proceed under Rule 18-1 and replace the ball without penalty.
However, in order to replace the ball, you must know the spot on which to replace it. If it is impossible to determine the spot where the ball is to be replaced, then, through the green, the ball must be dropped as near as possible to the place where it lay (Rule 20-3c). Rose, therefore, had to drop his ball to get it back into play in accordance with the Rules.
Ko had the same issue on the 18th hole during the final round of the women’s golf event. In contention for the silver medal, Ko had to replace her ball when a young spectator picked it up after it came to rest in the watching crowd left of the 18th green.
Usually in these circumstances – and as was the case with Rose – the spot where the ball is to be replaced is not determinable and the ball is dropped to get it back into play. However, in Ko’s case, a witness was able to point to the exact spot where the ball lay before it was picked up.
As a result, Ko was able to replace the ball by placing it on the spot from which it was lifted by the young boy to get her ball back in to play (Rule 20-3a).
The R&A’s Shona McRae (in pink) assists Lydia Ko with a ruling in the Olympics
An outside agency is something that is not part of the competitor’s side, caddie or equipment
If a ball at rest is moved by an outside agency, there is no penalty and it must be replaced
To apply Rule 18-1, you must know, or have evidence, that an outside agency moved the ball