PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – And MLB thinks its review process takes too long.
From the moment Justin Rose putted out on the 18th hole on Saturday at The Players until he returned to the scoring area after countless reviews, trips to three TV control trucks and a transatlantic phone call, more than 30 minutes had elapsed and two strokes had been added to the Englishman’s card for a violation of Rule 18-2b - one stroke for the ball moving at address and one for Rose not replacing it after it had moved.
Rose’s second shot had come to rest in a “spongy” area behind the 18th green and as he addressed his chip he thought he saw his golf ball move. Almost immediately the large scoreboard adjacent to the 18th hole showed the replay and both Rose and Sergio Garcia, who was paired with him, agreed there had been no movement.
Even after an initial review of the incident in the scoring area, Rose and Tour officials confirmed they saw no movement. But before he could sign his scorecard David Probyn, a European Tour official who was watching the third round from the United Kingdom, called PGA Tour officials to inform them he saw the ball move.
A third review on a magnified version of the tape revealed the ball rocked “a hair,” Rose said.
In 2013, the USGA and Royal & Ancient adjusted a decision in the Rules of Golf so that, “The ball will not be deemed to have moved if that movement was not reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time.” But that rule didn’t apply to Rose’s situation.
“It's not as though he didn't see anything and then it came up because of high-definition television. He saw something and backed off, that's why the high-definition rule didn't apply,” said Mark Russell, the Tour’s vice president of rules and competition.
Rose was penalized two strokes for the incident and took a double-bogey-6 on the hole for a 73 that left him tied for 13th place. Had Rose called in a rules official to review the incident before he played his third shot at the 18th hole it would have been a one-stroke penalty if it was later discovered the ball had moved.
“It has to be the right result. Because if the ball moves, whether it moves an inch, if the ball moves a hair, the ball moved,” Rose said. “I'm happy now, my conscience is clear, I'll sleep better tonight, knowing that, eventually, the right decision was made.”