Rules to Play By Settling Disputes

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 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
My partner's 2nd shot ended up to the left of the green. He hit his 3rd shot, which ended up logded 30 feet high in the dead fronds of a palm tree. We waited about 30 seconds - it didn't come down. He took a drop about 10 feet back from the tree, giving him a nice angle to the front of the green. While addressing his new ball, the original ball fell from the tree, landing near the trunk.
I argued that the penalty stroke and newly dropped ball should be played, because he addressed his dropped ball. I felt that he should be hitting 5 with the tree still in front of him. He argued that he never declared his ball lost, and can play the original as his 4th shot, because addressing the ball is not the same as taking a stroke.
Who is right? He addressed the dropped ball, but didn't swing, before the original fell from the tree. Hitting 5 with the original around a tree vs. hitting 4 to punch out from underneath would have made a big difference in our game.

You have got an awful lot going on: a lost ball, dropping in the wrong place, and playing a wrong ball. If you allowed your buddy to play from underneath the tree, you definitely got the short end of the stick.
When he hit his shot into the tree and could not see it, his ball was considered lost and he had five minutes to find or identify it. Since he did not wait and dropped another ball, his first ball was deemed lost. His dropped ball became the ball in play as soon as he dropped it. You do not have to address the ball or make a stroke at the ball for it to be the ball in play. When the original ball then fell out of the tree he was not allowed to play it because he had put another ball into play. The fact that he dropped in the wrong place is irrelevant right now. His only option for a lost ball is stroke and distance. He should have dropped his ball back to his previous spot to the left of the green, lying 4, hitting 5.
If he did not pick up the ball and re-drop it in the correct place he would receive additional penalty strokes. If he played his dropped ball from the wrong place, add two strokes for playing from the wrong place and let him putt it out. If he picked that one up and played his original ball from under the tree, he is now playing a wrong ball. That is a two-stroke penalty and he must correct the mistake before he tees off the next teeing ground. If he does not correct the mistake then it would be a disqualification penalty. Hopefully you did not have a big bet on you game; there is nothing we can do about it now.
-- Ray
If you are in the middle of the fairway (which means the ball is in play) and your practice stroke accidentally hits the ball, what is the ruling? You did not intend to hit the ball so is it deemed a stroke regardless? If it is deemed a stroke, do you play it where it ended up? If it's not a stroke, I assume you put the ball back where it was.
Along those lines: If you accidentally hit a ball off the tee with your club, it is not deemed a stroke because the ball is not in play yet right?
Teri Chapple, Cottage Grove, MN

This is an easy one. The answer to you question can be found in the very front of your rule book under the definition of stroke. For a player to make a stroke, there has to forward movement of a club with the intention of striking at and moving the ball. When you are taking a practice swing, there is no intent. So there was no stroke.
The proper thing to do is move the ball back to its original position with a one-stroke penalty for moving your ball in play. If you do not move the ball back and play it from its new position, you would receive a penalty for playing from a wrong place. The total penalty strokes for this error would be two strokes.
In your example on the tee box, your answer is correct but the ruling is not. When you moved the ball on the tee box, it is not a stroke because there was no intent to strike the ball. The good thing is that it is not a penalty because the ball was not in play yet.
-- Ray
Friday (at the Samsung), Paula Creamer's approach to the green ended up plugged in the rough near to a bunker. After consulting a rules official, she got to lift and drop her ball. Isn't this allowed only for a plugged lie in a 'closely mown area?'
Robert Morley, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario

I did not witness the ruling but maybe I can shed some light on your question. In professional tournaments they normally play the embedded ball rule in closely mown areas. Closely mown areas would include walkways, fairways, and fringes. If a players ball is embedded in one of these areas they can lift, clean, and drop the ball as close to the pitch mark as possible.
In some of the tournaments we play in Florida, we will play embedded ball through the green. Basically, this would be everyone on the course except water hazards and bunkers. The reason we do this is because of the soft sandy soil and the constant threat of rain. We seem to get a lot of embedded golf balls in the rough just off the fairway. It is more fair to the player to let them take embedded ball relief.
As far as the ruling, maybe there was a local rule allowing embedded ball through the green, or she got relief from something else we could not see. I know that doesnt completely answer your question, but I thought I would give it a shot. I needed to see the ruling to give you a better answer.
-- Ray
You answered a guy's question about clearing a water hazard on a par 3 in the last issue. My situation is different in that I am hitting to an island hole. The drive clears the water and lands on the island but bounces to a slope and rolls into the water on the side of the island. There is also a drop area. Where do I play the ball from? Where it crossed the hazard line on the island or from the drop area?
Thanks for your help.
Ray Ptak

You have the three options I listed last week plus an additional option of using the ball drop. Your ball crossed the margin of the hazard next to the green. Since it was an island green, the three water hazard options dont really assist you in any way. You can play out of the water, go straight back with the flagstick (deeper into the water), or go back to the tee. Basically the penalty when you miss an island green is stroke and distance. That is why the course will provide a ball drop area. Whether you use the ball drop area is your call. They are just providing it as an additional option. I myself would recommend using the ball drop. I remember watching the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship this year when over 40 golf balls were hit into the water at the 17th hole on the first day of the tournament. I know those players were glad they had the option of a ball drop.
Thank you for your questions,
Ray Herzog
Email your Rules of Golf questions to Ray
Rory McIlroy at the 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Getty Images

McIlroy making big statement in first start of 2018

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 3:40 pm

Rory McIlroy marched the fairways of Abu Dhabi Golf Club Saturday with that fighter pilot stride of his, with that confident little bob in his step that you see when he is in command of his full arsenal of shots.

So much for easing into the new year.

So much for working off rust and treating these first few months of 2018 as a warmup for the Masters and his bid to complete the career Grand Slam.

McIlroy, 28, is poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

With back-to-back birdies to close his round, McIlroy put up a 7-under-par 65, leaving him just one shot off the lead going into the final round.

“It’s good,” McIlroy said. “I probably scored a bit better today, short game was needed as well, but I hit the ball very well, so all in all it was another great round and confidence builder, not just for this week but obviously for the rest of the season as well.”

McIlroy can make a strong statement with a win Sunday.

If he claims the title in his first start of the year, he sends a message about leaving all the woes of 2017 behind him. He sends a message about his fitness after a nagging rib injury plagued him all of last year. He sends a message about his readiness to reassert himself as the game’s best player in a world suddenly teeming with towering young talent.

After his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro, McIlroy is eager to show himself, as well as everyone else, that he is ready to challenge for major championships and the world No. 1 title again.

“It feels like awhile since I’ve won,” McIlroy said. “I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

A victory would be all the more meaningful because the week started with McIlroy paired with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and reigning European Tour Player of the Year Tommy Fleetwood.

McIlroy acknowledged the meaning of that going into Saturday’s round.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent healthy,” he said. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and one of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

It’s worth repeating what 2008 Masters champ Trevor Immelman said last month about pairings and the alpha-dog nature of the world’s best players. He was talking about Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge, when Immelman said pairings matter, even in off season events.

“When you are the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Immelman said. “They want to show this guy, `This is what I got.’”

A victory with Johnson in the field just two weeks after Johnson won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in an eight-shot rout will get the attention of all the elite players.

A victory also sets this up as a January for the ages, making it the kind of big-bang start the game has struggled to create in the shadow of the NFL playoffs.

Johnson put on a tour-de-force performance winning in Hawaii and the confident young Spaniard Jon Rahm is just a shot off the lead this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour. Sergio Garcia is just two off the lead going into the final round of the Singapore Open. Tiger Woods makes his return to the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines next week.

To be sure, McIlroy has a lot of work to do Sunday.

Yet another rising young talent, Thomas Pieters, shares the lead with Ross Fisher. Fleetwood is just two shots back and Johnson five back.

McIlroy has such a good history at Abu Dhabi. Over the last seven years, he has finished second four times and third twice. Still, even a strong finish that falls short of winning bodes well for McIlroy in his first start of the year.

“I have never won my first start back out,” McIlroy said.

A strong start, whether he wins or not, sets McIlroy up well for the ambitious schedule he plans for 2018. He’s also scheduled to play the Dubai Desert Classic next with the possibility he’ll play 30 times this year, two more events than he’s ever played in a year.

“I’m just really getting my golf head back on,” McIlroy said. “I’ve been really pleased with that.”

A victory Sunday will make all our heads spin a little b it with the exciting possibilities the game offers this year.

Getty Images

Garcia 2 back in weather-delayed Singapore Open

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 3:06 pm

SINGAPORE - Danthai Boonma and Chapchai Nirat built a two-stroke lead over a chasing pack that includes Sergio Garcia and Ryo Ishikawa midway through the third round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open on Saturday.

The Thai golfers were locked together at 9 under when play was suspended at the Sentosa Golf Club for the third day in a row because of lightning strikes in the area.

Masters champion Garcia and former teen prodigy Ishikawa were among seven players leading the chase at 7 under on a heavily congested leaderboard.

Garcia, one of 78 players who returned to the course just after dawn to complete their second rounds, was on the 10th hole of his third round when the warning siren was sounded to abruptly end play for the day.

''Let's see if we can finish the round, that will be nice,'' he said. ''But I think if I can play 4-under I should have a chance.''

The Spanish golfer credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his first major championship title at Augusta National because of the stifling humidity of southeast Asia and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore in 2017, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the subsequent week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later. He is feeling confident of his chances of success this weekend.

''I felt like I hit the ball OK,'' Garcia said. ''My putting and all went great but my speed hasn't been great on this green so let's see if I can be a little more aggressive on the rounds this weekend.''

Ishikawa moved into a share of the lead at the halfway stage after firing a second round of 5-under 66 that featured eight birdies. He birdied the first two holes of his third round to grab the outright lead but slipped back with a double-bogey at the tricky third hole for the third day in a row. He dropped another shot at the par-5 sixth when he drove into a fairway bunker.

''It was a short night but I had a good sleep and just putted well,'' Ishikawa said. The ''greens are a little quicker than yesterday but I still figured (out) that speed.

Ishikawa was thrust into the spotlight more than a decade ago. In 2007, he became the youngest player to win on any of the major tours in the world. He was a 15-year-old amateur when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup.

He turned pro at 16, first played in the Masters when he was 17 and the Presidents Cup when he was 18. He shot 58 in the final round to win The Crowns in Japan when he was 19.

Now 26, Ishikawa has struggled with injuries and form in recent years. He lost his PGA Tour card and hasn't played in any of the majors since 2015. He has won 15 times as a professional, but has never won outside his homeland of Japan.

Chapchai was able to sleep in and put his feet up on Saturday morning after he completed his second round on Friday.

He bogeyed the third but reeled off three birdies in his next four holes to reach 9-under with the back nine still to play.

Danthai was tied for 12th at the halfway stage but charged into a share of the lead with seven birdies in the first 15 holes of his penultimate round.

Getty Images

McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, five shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

Getty Images

Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''