Darren Clarke’s U.S. Senior Open debut came with some controversy.
Clarke shot 3-over 73 Thursday at Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course, but that round included a two-shot penalty after Clarke’s caddie tried to remove a bird feeder that was in Clarke’s line of play.
According to Rule 15.2, free relief is allowed from movable obstructions but not from immovable obstructions, which is what bird feeders are considered at the Warren Golf Course. Also, Rule 16.1 allows free relief from immovable obstructions and other abnormal course conditions but only if it interferes with lie, stance or a ball on the putting surface.
When Clarke pulled his drive left on the par-4 10th hole and found his line of play affected by the feeder, he wasn’t entitled to free relief, despite his pleas to a rules official.
But it gets worse. While Clarke with talking to the official, Clarke’s caddie can be seen on video trying to uproot the feeder. The move earned Clarke a two-shot penalty, which gave him a triple bogey on the hole.