Matthew Wolff surged into the US Open lead on Saturday with a 65, but there was one fascinating moment in Winged Foot's thick rough that caught the eye. Steve Carroll explains what was going on
Matthew Wolff clearly spent hours playing Operation as a kid – either that or he’s just got a REALLY steady hand.
If you were worried about the 21-year-old’s nerves as he faces the final round of his life at the US Open at Winged Foot, one particular moment during the back nine on Saturday should have put any fretfulness at rest.
Wolff arrived at his drive in the rough on the par-5 12th to find his ball resting very close to a divot created earlier in the tournament.
Now the divot is a loose impediment – “any unattached natural object” as defined in the rules.
Rule 15.1a allowed Wolff to remove it. But if the ball moved while he was shifting the pesky piece of turf, he would have been slapped with a one-stroke penalty and had to replace it.
Wolff could always have played the ball as it lies, though he obviously didn’t fancy having to negotiate a hulking sod of grass at impact.
And so he took on the golfing equivalent of brain surgery.
“Nerves of steel,” Paul Azinger told American TV viewers as Wolff painstakingly extricated the bulky bit of grass.
“That was impressive,” Craig Winter, the USGA’s senior director of the Rules of Golf and amateur status, added. “That was a loose impediment. Obviously Matt was being very careful about that, making sure his ball didn’t move.”
Just as absorbing as Wolff’s deftness of touch was the 3M Open winner’s hack out and subsequent par that kept his sensational 65 rolling on.
Remember, if you have any questions about the Rules of Golf, you can get in touch with me.
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