McDowell four off lead despite two-stroke penalty

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CARMEL, Ind. – If Graeme McDowell comes up a shot short of winning the BMW Championship, he will regret not knowing the intricacies of the Rules of Golf.

With a 5-under-par 67 Friday at Crooked Stick, McDowell positioned himself well for a weekend run at the title just four shots off the lead. He’s at 9-under 135 despite a two-shot penalty incurred at his last hole Thursday after grazing a leaf attached to a twig while addressing his ball in a bunker.

“I would love the two shots back, but they’re gone now,” McDowell said. “I managed to come out and make a couple early birdies this morning to quickly negate the two I had to hand back in the scorer’s hut last night.”

McDowell was penalized for grazing the leaf with his club after addressing the ball.

“I’ve got to admit, I didn’t know the rule,” McDowell said. “I wouldn’t say I was trying to avoid brushing that twig. I wasn’t purposely trying to avoid it because I honestly didn’t think there was a problem with touching it . . . My caddie told me not to touch it, and I thought he meant don't remove it, but he meant don't touch it with your club, either, 'You doughnut.’”

McDowell was asked if he thought it was a good rule.

“I don't see why you shouldn't be allowed to move loose impediments in a prepared hazard,” McDowell said. “The surface is supposed to be prepared for everyone, and I guess that was probably my thought process . . . I know I can't touch it, as in remove it, but now I know I can't touch it with my club. 

“It just hurts when a guy is not in any shape or form trying to gain an advantage, and, like me yesterday, I brushed that leaf, and I get a two-shotter. I haven't gained an advantage, I haven't improved my lie, my ball is still in exactly the same scenario, I believe, has not moved, but yet I've got to add two to my scorecard. Like I said, no advantage gained, and in fact I've given two back to the field.

“Yeah, it's the rules, and most of them are there for our protection. Some of them are a little fiddly, and a little interesting. The referee said to me yesterday, 'We need to change that rule.' No good to me right now, but I get it. I get it.”