DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Another week, another rules controversy. Although when the dust settled Thursday’s issue was more in the eyes of the beholder.
Concerns began when world No. 3 Henrik Stenson hit his approach shot at the par-4 14th hole into a water hazard. After consulting with a European Tour rules official, Stenson chose to drop some 40 yards farther back while keeping the line of where his ball last entered the hazard between himself and the hole, with no limit to how far the ball can be dropped behind the water, under rule 26-1b.
Thomas Bjorn, who was playing with Stenson, questioned the official who ruled on the drop at No. 14, but said nothing to the Swede.
“I didn’t have much of a shot behind trees and off hard pan so I went back and played a lovely 6-iron,” said Stenson, who made bogey on the hole and finished with a 2-under 70.
When the group finished their round John Paramor, the European Tour’s chief referee, was consulted, drove out to the 14th hole to review the drop and ruled that Stenson had taken a proper drop.
Bjorn, however, continued to voice his concern over the drop and had an extended conversation with Paramor and Stenson on the practice putting green. Bjorn declined to comment, saying only, “It’s all fine. John (Paramor) says it’s fine.”
“It’s one of those situations where Thomas was looking from a different vantage and the drop didn’t look quite right,” Paramor said. “They just want to make sure they get it right.”