Other side of rule gets crack at golf

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - THE SECOND PAGE - Com­piled by Jeff Krup­saw

Golf can’t seem to get out of its own way when it comes to en­forc­ing its ever-chang­ing, some­times vague rules.

In April, the golf­ing public lashed out at the sport for be­ing snob­bish when pop­u­lar LPGA player Lexi Thomp­son lost a tour­na­ment over a vi­o­la­tion many viewed to be mi­nus­cule and un­in­ten­tional.

Thomp­son re­ceived a four-shot penalty one day af­ter she was ruled to have im­prop­erly marked her ball, and she ended up los­ing the LPGA’s Ana In­spi­ra­tion, a ma­jor tour­na­ment, by one shot.

She was left in tears and the out­cry was deaf­en­ing.

The up­roar was so loud that the United States Golf As­so­ci­a­tion (USGA), along with the R&A (Royal & An­cient) — the sport’s rule-mak­ers — amended the mark­ing rule, throw­ing in in­tent as a con­di­tion.

Now, here comes Jon Rahm, a 22-year-old Spa­niard who cruised to a six-shot vic­tory Sun­day in the Ir­ish Open on the European Tour.

Rahm, like Thomp­son, was spot­ted do­ing some­thing many TV view­ers thought was wrong when he ap­peared to place his ball in front of his marker — and an inch or two closer to the hole — on the sixth green dur­ing Sun­day’s fi­nal round in North­ern Ire­land.

View­ers called in, and Chief Rules Ref­eree Andy McPhee re­viewed the tape, talked to Rahm and ruled no penalty be­cause he said there was “no in­tent to break a rule.”

This time, it was the stuffy shirts who lashed out, start­ing with Bran­del Cham­blee of the Golf Chan­nel.

“The in­tegrity of the com­pe­ti­tion was cer­tainly at risk, and the dy­namic of the com­pe­ti­tion com­pletely changed from what it should have been to one per­son’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion, and in my opin­ion, a wrong in­ter­pre­ta­tion of it,” he said. “Andy McPhee cer­tainly has a great rep­u­ta­tion ad­min­is­ter­ing the rules in a fair man­ner, but I be­lieve he got this one wrong. It wasn’t mil­lime­ters. It was inches, prob­a­bly two-to-three inches this ball was mis­placed.” Cham­blee went on:

“So, [Rahm] broke the rule. He should have been pe­nal­ized, which means he wouldn’t have been play­ing with a five-shot lead. He would have been play­ing with a three-shot lead. And all of a sud­den, what looks to be some­thing easy and a walk in the park be­comes very stress­ful. The dy­namic cer­tainly changed there, and I don’t be­lieve it changed for the right rea­son.”

Rahm de­fended him­self. “Ev­ery sit­u­a­tion is dif­fer­ent and ev­ery moment is dif­fer­ent, and the cam­era an­gle can al­ways be some­thing that might fool the eye,” Rahm said. “In my case today, I was aware of what I did, and I thought I put it back in the same spot.”

No love for Utah

Gordon Hay­ward said good­bye to the Utah Jazz last week, sign­ing a four-year, $138 mil­lion deal.

For­mer team­mate Trey Burke was not sur­prised in the least bit.

Burke re­sponded to a Twit­ter user re­cently as to why Hay­ward is no longer a mem­ber of the Jazz.

Jedi Jerms, the Twit­ter user, tweeted: “I don’t blame Trey Lyles. Jazz traded him. I don’t blame Trey Burke. He just wasn’t tal­ented enough. I don’t blame all the guys we let walk.”

Burke, maybe taken aback by the tal­ented talk, re­sponded.

“Lol no I’m just afraid no one wants to play there my guy.”

His tweet was fol­lowed by two cry­ing emo­jis.

Burke spent his first three NBA sea­sons in Utah, av­er­ag­ing 12.1 points and 4.2 as­sists, but he never quite lived up to his billing as a top-10 pick and was traded to the Wash­ing­ton Wizards in 2016. A free agent, Burke can pick his next des­ti­na­tion.

It’s safe to say a re­union with Salt Lake City is not in the off­ing.

AP/NAILL CARSON

Spain’s Jon Rahm avoided a penalty in Sun­day’s fi­nal round of the Ir­ish Open when rules of­fi­cials de­ter­mined he did not at­tempt to break the rules when TV view­ers thought he placed his ball in front of the marker on the sixth green. Rahm went on to win the tour­na­ment by six strokes.

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