PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — U.S. Open champion Justin Rose thought his ball might have moved. Then he was convinced it didn’t.
Only after he got up-and-down to save par and looked at the replay on three televisions did he see the slighest movement that came with a stiff penalty Saturday in The Players Championship. The two-shot penalty turned his 71 into a 73. Instead of being five shots behind Jordan Spieth and Martin Kaymer, he was seven shots back.
“That was a bitter pill to swallow at the end of a battling day,” Rose said. “In some ways, it’s my own fault for trying to be my own rules official.”
Rose missed the 18th green to the right and set up over the ball to play a delicate chip. Suddenly, he backed away when there appeared to be movement right after he lightly grounded his club. He called over Sergio Garcia. They watched the replay on a video board.
“We both clearly look at the evidence and look at the replay and say, ‘No, absolutely the ball didn’t move,'” Rose said. “But under 50 times magnification in the truck, maybe the ball moved a quarter of a dimple toward the toe of the club. Obviously, if the ball moved, it moved. And I get assessed an extra stroke penalty.”
Rose was penalized under Rule 18-2b for causing the ball to move at address (one shot), and then an additional shot for not replacing it. He might have been able to save himself one shot by calling for an official to go through the incident.
Rose said the grass was soft and uneven, which he thought might have given the appearance that the ball moved.
“I’ve gone from trying to chip in to make 3 to walking off with a 6,” he said of his double bogey. “Disappointing. But in the same way, I’m glad now that at least the right decision has been made. The ball moved. Obviously, I made a mistake.”
Rose was not spared by an addition to the “Decisions on the Rules of Golf” this year (18/4) that would waive the penalty if a ball movement was not “reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time” and required enhanced technology.
The fact he quickly backed away from the shot was evidence that it was discernible.
Even so, this took what Rose called “four trucks and different technology” to sort out. Before signing his scorecard, he looked at a replay on NBC Sports and it looked fine. European Tour rules official David Probyn weighed in with some concerns to make sure it was right, and Rose said he went to a second and a third trailer to see different television views “where they really zoomed in.”
“The movement … was virtually not visible,” he said.
It was reminiscent of the BMW Championship last year in Chicago, where Tiger Woods was penalized two shots when video showed his ball moved ever so slightly as Woods was removing loose twigs around it. Woods was adamant that the ball only oscillated, even after video evidence. He was penalized two shots.
In both cases, no advantage was gained. But the Rules of Golf require the ball to be “played as it lies.”
“It has to be the right result,” Rose said. “Because if the ball moves — whether it moves an inch, if the ball moves a hair — the ball moved. And I’m happy now. My conscience is clear. I’ll sleep better tonight knowing that, eventually, the right decision was made.”
But he wasn’t entirely happy.
“No advantage gained, and obviously now a big disadvantage, unfortunately,” he said about the two-shot penalty.
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