SOUTHPORT, England – Lee Westwood crafted his words carefully when describing his role in the rules dispute that nearly derailed Jon Rahm’s opening round at The Open.
Rahm was approached by a rules official on the 17th hole Thursday and told that he had provisionally been given a two-shot penalty for moving an attached vine. The situation was reviewed after the round, and Rahm explained that the plant was not in his swing path and that his actions did not improve his lie.
With no video evidence to rely upon, tournament officials took Rahm’s explanation into consideration and ultimately decided to rescind the penalty, turning a 1-over 71 back into a 1-under 69.
“At the end of the day, it’s not my call, honestly. I can describe what happened as honestly and truthfully as possible, as detailed as can happen. And they make the judgment call,” Rahm said Thursday. “It’s up to them. They did say it’s a very fine line. I would have been fine with whatever the rules official (said), they know the rules better than any of us and it’s their call.”
Westwood was playing alongside Rahm for the first two days, and he was the one who first alerted Rahm that there might be an issue with how he touched the plant. After a second-round 74 left him at 5 over and teetering near the cut line, Westwood spoke briefly to share his side of the situation from the previous day.
“I didn’t see where (the vine) was, I only saw him moving it around to sort of 3 o’clock from where I stood, and I could see it was attached,” Westwood said. “So I said that it was attached, and they called over a rules official.”
When asked by a reporter about how the situation might affect Rahm’s reputation given the rules controversy that surrounded his win earlier this month at the DDF Irish Open, Westwood stuck to his story and declined to expand further.
“So I saw it, and I saw him lift it up and I saw him move it around to about 3 o’clock, and that’s all I saw,” Westwood said. “I’m not going to comment on anything else.”
After shooting a second-round, 4-over 74, Rahm took questions from the media and said, "I'm an honest player. We're all golfers, it's one of the things that golf teaches you. We're all role models and none of us are here are trying to cheat."