SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – After saying that it was “highly unlikely” that players would have preferred lies Sunday, the PGA of America reversed course for the final round at Baltusrol – and made history in the process.
It’s believed to be the first time in the 98-year history of PGA that players were allowed to lift, clean and place their ball in the fairway.
When asked Saturday evening whether the PGA would consider playing the ball up for the final round, Kerry Haigh, the PGA’s chief championships officer, said: “It’s very unlikely. The Rules of Golf are there to cover wet weather.”
The PGA has yet to address the situation publicly, but it said in a statement that the decision was made after the course received more than a half-inch of rain (bringing the weekly total to five-plus inches) and with more precipitation expected over the next 24 hours.
“This decision,” the statement said, “was made with the objective of completing play.”
Before the announcement was made, Steve Stricker expressed concern that mud balls “could be an issue” if the soggy course dried up.
Players who began their third round Sunday morning still played the ball down.
But for the final round, which began at 8:40 a.m. ET, players were able to mark their balls in the fairway and replace it within a club length, no closer to the hole.