Do You Have Your Head In The Sand?
Rule 27-1a Proceeding Under Stroke and Distance
Most would be aware of the “Mickleson incident” from the 3rd round of the US Open. In short, on the 13th hole of the third round, Mickleson’s bogey putt (5th stroke) was struck too hard. Phil, realising it was going to roll off the green, decided to run after it and hit it back towards the hole while it was still moving. This incurred a penalty of 2 strokes in accordance with Rule 14-5 – Playing Moving Ball. He ultimately scored a 10.
Other than allowing the ball to come to rest and playing the ball as it lay, did Phil have any other options? For a one stroke penalty, he could have proceeded under Rule 27-1a – Proceeding under stroke and distance.
Rule 27-1a states, “at any time, a play may, under penalty of one stroke, play a ball from as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played.”
If a previous stroke was from:
• the teeing ground, it may be played from anywhere within the teeing ground and may be teed
• through the green or a hazard, it must be dropped as close as possible, no nearer the hole from where the original ball was last played
• the putting green, it must be placed as close as possible, no nearer the hole from where the original ball was last played
It is important to note that this option is available at any time, the ball does not have to be physically unplayable to use this rule. This option is also available when the original ball was played from closer than where the stroke ended up.
It is important to remember that under this rule is that if you take an air swing “the spot from which the original ball was last played” is the same spot and there is no regression or going back to a spot from a few strokes before.
As a result, Phil could have placed his ball on the green where he originally putted from and played his 7th stroke. Two putts from there would have given him an 8, two strokes less than the 10 he actually made.
So while Phil thought he was getting an advantage by breaking the rules, he likely cost himself two strokes. So rather than being Phil the Thill, he really became Phil the Dill.