BROOKLINE, Mass. – Justin Thomas was hoping for a big Saturday at the U.S. Open after starting the round six shots off the lead, and a 319-yard drive down the middle of the fourth fairway was an encouraging start.
That’s when things started to unravel.
Thomas’ golf ball at No. 4 came to rest near a drain and he requested a ruling for relief.
“During the discussion, [Thomas] was asked if the drain was going to interfere with his swing, to which he replied it was not. Because there was no interference from the drain, he was not provided relief,” a USGA statement read.
Rule 16.1a (1) allows for relief if an “obstruction physically interferes with the player’s area of intended stance or area of intended swing.” However, the rule also states that “if the obstruction is close enough to distract the player but does not otherwise interfere, there is no relief.”
From an awkward lie, Thomas’ approach shot came up nearly 50 yards short of the green for the first of five bogeys on the day, and he was heard during the telecast complaining about the ruling.
“Very clearly my stance and my ball was sitting differently than it would be if that drain was not there,” Thomas said following a third-round 72. “In the spirit of the game I wasn't going to hit the drain. I felt like I very easily could have told [the official] that I was going to and gotten a free drop, but I wasn't.
“It's very clear that my stance and where my ball was was altered and sitting bad because of that drain, but didn't get a drop from it. That's just how it is. You have to be able to hit the drain to get a drop.”
Thomas is tied for 25th and seven shots off the lead.