Rules to Play By Did Lefty Break the Rules

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 20, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editor's note: Each week, Ray Herzog, a rules expert from the San Diego Golf Academy in Orlando, Fla., will be answering reader-submitted questions involving the Rules of Golf. Look for Ray's Q&A every Thursday on
In the first round of play at the Tour Championship Phil Mickelson hit his drive into the trees on number 5. He found his ball lying at the foot of some trees. He clearly identified the ball as his own and proceeded to take an unplayable lie and dropped a 2nd ball 40 feet back in the direction of his ball flight. After hitting his now 3rd shot after the penalty he walked out of the trees and left his original ball back next to the tree. I was under the impression once you start a hole with that ball you have to finish with the same ball, unless it is deemed damaged. Should he have picked up the first ball and dropped that and played it? In my eyes he should have been assessed a one stroke penalty for the unplayable and then a two stroke penalty for playing the wrong ball. What is the correct ruling? -- David A. Decker
As I watched the TOUR Championship and watched Phil leave his ball next to the tree it made me feel great. I have done the same thing on numerous occasions. All that tells me about Phil is that he is as superstitious as your average golfer. Somewhere deep down, he thought that ball had some bad Mojo and did not want to use it anymore, so he abandoned it next to the tree. Now that we know Phil is superstitious, the question is, did he break a rule of golf and deserve to get penalized. The answer is NO.
As you stated in your question, Phil used the second option under Rule 28. (Ball Unplayable) The wording in Part B of the rule states:
Drop a ball behind the point where the ball lay, keeping that point directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball dropped, with no limit to how far behind that point the ball may be dropped.
The rule states, drop a ball not drop the ball. That one little difference is why Phil was allowed to leave his golf ball next to the tree without receiving a penalty. In some situations, you will have to take an unplayable ball and not be able to retrieve your ball. Down here in Florida, it is not uncommon to hit a ball in a palm tree. You can look up and identify the ball in the tree but you cant get to it. In this situation you can abandon the ball in the tree and drop a different ball under the unplayable ball rule. That is basically what Phil did, except his ball was on the ground. If you read Rule 26 (Water Hazards) and Rule 27 (Out of Bounds) you will see the same wording under the relief portion of each rule.
-- Ray
I am confused. I saw a 'lesson' on TV provided by (David) Feherty during coverage of a PGA tournament. He was on the putting surface about three feet from the hole. He missed his putt and it rolled down and off the green to a position not shown by the cameras. He explained that his decision was to take an unplayable lie and replace the ball where he had putted from, take the penalty and putt the ball into the hole. His reasoning was that it was a very hot day and he didn't want to have to walk down and up the hill to play his ball where it lay. Is this within the rules? It seems as if it would give the player an unfair advantage to take this penalty and putt from three feet away versus who knows how many strokes it would take to hit the ball back up the hill and into the hole. ' William McQuade
I think I saw the same broadcast, but I think it was Gary McCord explaining the rule. The Ball Unplayable rule has Pros and Cons. In this situation, the pro is Gary did not have to walk all the way down the hill to play his ball. The con was he had to apply a one-stroke penalty to his score.
Part A of the rule states:
Play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played.
One of Garys options was to place the ball back to its previous position. In this situation, that was three feet from the hole on the putting green. If he would have skulled his shot out of the bunker over the flag and into the woods, nobody would think twice if he would have to drop another ball in the bunker.
Another benefit of the rule as we learned in the previous question, if you are really lazy and dont want to walk down the hill, just abandon the ball and put another ball into play.
-- Ray
Just curious - not in a tournament or anything but my golf partner was dead behind a tree and had to come out to the left. He was right handed. He turned his wedge upside down and from the left, placed the face about two inches behind the ball and without any backswing moved the face forward until it scooped up the ball and propelled it out from behind the tree. The ball did not double hit the face and the chip out - if you can call it that - came off perfectly. We all felt impressed and wondered why we hadn't thought of that. Would this be a legitimate swing according to the rules? ' Stuart Clark
I am glad that you and your friends had not thought of his idea first. That tells me you are more in touch with your rule book that your unnamed friend. The answer to your question can be found in Rule 14 (Striking the Ball). Rule 14-1, states:
The ball must be fairly struck at with the head of the club and must not be pushed, scraped or spooned.
In this situation, your friend seemed to have pushed the ball out of the bad lie. There has to be some kind of backswing and striking motion to be considered a swing. As far as turning the wedge upside down, that is legal. A player may play a stroke with any part of the clubhead, provided the ball is fairly struck at. In this case, the penalty would be two strokes for pushing the ball out of the bad lie.
In the Decisions on The Rules of Golf, there is a similar ruling, 14-1/1. If you do not have a Decisions book, log onto and there is a copy online.
Thank you for your questions,
Ray Herzog
Email your Rules of Golf questions to Ray
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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.