December 01, 2010
Alarm clocks, dropped golf balls and non-bunkers that are bunkers ... this is what 2010 could be remembered for. Why is that? Because it seemed at every turn, there was a rules violation playing a huge part in the outcome of a tournament. Here is a look back at some of the big ones that made this year so ... rulesy.
Brian Davis, Verizon Heritage -- At this point it is probably tough to remember who won the four majors, so why would we expect you to remember all the way back to April, when Davis, in a playoff with Jim Furyk, was looking for his first PGA Tour win. Standing in some tall grass, Davis hit his third shot, and then called the rules officials over. Turns out, Davis grazed a weed with his backswing, landing a two-shot penalty and giving the title to Furyk. A tough break, but Davis called the penalty on himself, earning respect from just about everyone around the game of golf.
Michelle Wie, Kia Classic -- In March, Wie was still searching for her first win of 2010, and was very much in the hunt at the Kia Classic. Then came the final round, when Michelle hit a shot in a hazard on the 11th hole. Trying to advance the ball, Wie only moved it about two feet, and in frustrating, hit the ground with her club ... in a hazard. That's a no-no, and Wie was assessed a two-shot penalty, eventually dropping about $110,000 for her fall because of the penalty.
Juli Inkster, Safeway Classic -- The rules of golf will lay down for no man, or woman it appears, per the case of Inkster in August. Playing well at the Safeway, Inkster got disqualified because she was seen on television using a swing weight during a round, caught by a viewer who called into the LPGA and got her sent away for the rest of the weekend.
Shi Hyun Ahn and Ilmi Chung, CN Canadian Women's Open -- A strange situation between these two players, who were disqualified after the Thursday round for playing the wrong ball yet signing the scorecard as if nothing happened. Reports were flying around about this from all sides, but nobody really admitted anything. (Thanks to @karlitsv for the reminder.)
Jim Furyk, The Barclays -- Oversleeping is a procrastinators best friend, but not if you're a golfer, and in need of making a pro-am time. Furyk, the eventual FedEx Cup winner, didn't even play the first event because he missed his pro-am time, leading to an automatic disqualification, that was eventually changed in the rules after the Furyk mishap.
Ryuji Imada and Nick Faldo, Mission Hills Star Trophy -- Local rules are dreadful, just ask Imada. Playing in this event, Imada was leading the thing before a playing partner realized he was using the lift, clean and place rule incorrectly. Local rules had players use a scorecard length, not the normal club length used on the PGA Tour. He was penalized 26 shots for the overlook of the rules, and called himself "an idiot" for the gaffe.
Faldo on the other hand, just had a brain-fart of sorts at the same event, picking up his ball on the eighth green before holing out, forgetting it was a stroke-play event. He was swiftly disqualified.
Ian Poulter, Dubai World Championships -- The most recent of the rules violations, Poulter had one of those instances that even intense golfers can't quite understand. Standing on the 18th green in a playoff against Robert Karlsson, Poulter dropped his ball on his marker, forcing it to flip up in the air and move. That's a penalty, and Poulter would eventually lose the playoff on that hole.
Dustin Johnson, PGA Championship -- The grandaddy of them all, Johnson will forever be known as the prime character in Bunkergate. On the 72nd hole at the PGA Championship, Johnson hit his drive well off the fairway at Whistling Straits, only to find the ball in some sandy area that the gallery had been stomping down all week. Johnson hit his second shot well left of the green, hit an incredible pitch shot to about 7 feet, only to miss that for the title ...
... Or so we thought. Johnson would eventually find out that he grounded his club in a bunker, even though most anyone with eyes or an ounce of sense agreed it didn't look like a bunker, landing a two-shot penalty. No playoff, no major, just a legacy that will live with that of Jean Van de Velde and Robert De Vincenzo. What a stupid I am!
Any others we forget, don't hesitate to drop them in the comments.
(Illustration via Dogs That Chase Cars)