Other side of rule gets crack at golf
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.
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.