Fowler clings on in Phoenix despite penalty farce

Golf News

Rickie Fowler ended his PGA Tour title drought at the Phoenix Open but yet again the rules were in the headlines for the wrong reasons. Joe Hughes explains

What happened at the Waste Management Phoenix Open?

Rickie Fowler claimed his first PGA Tour victory since February 2017 with a two-stroke win over Branden Grace.

The American survived a final-round meltdown that included a farcical penalty on the 11th – but more on that in a bit.

Fowler’s rollercoaster round also included what will likely be one of the best up-and-downs of the season as he saved par from the cart path on the 3rd.

Fowler was 2-over for on the day at the turn, but it was the back-nine where the drama really kicked in.

Rickie’s five-shot lead vanished in the space of two holes as he triple-bogeyed 11 and dropped another shot at 12.

The lead was then tied thanks to a fine run by Grace, including gains at 9, 12 and 13, but he couldn’t sustain his place down the stretch.

A bogey from the South African at 17 lead to a huge momentum swing back into Fowler’s favour and from there he got the job done, despite finding the long stuff at 18.

Final Waste Management Phoenix Open leaderboard

Talking Points

Much like many other tournaments since the turn of the year, the Rules of Golf made headlines at the Phoenix Open.

The European Tour disqualified Sergio Garcia this weekend, while Fowler and Denny McCarthy were the subject of ruling chaos in America.

Let’s start with Fowler. Having chipped through the green at 11 to find the water, he dropped the ball on the slope between the green and the hazard. But after the ball was declared in play, and while he was up on the green scoping out his next shot, he turned to see the ball rolling back into the drink.

Under the new rules, this results in a further penalty of one shot.

As for McCarthy, he was hit with a two-shot penalty following the second round for a breach of rule 10.2b(4):

Here is an explanation of the rule:

McCarthy did step away from his ball once his caddie had moved out of the area, but with his ball on the fairway the damage was already done.

If the American’s ball was on the putting green and he had taken the same action, he would not have broken the rule. But, as he was on the fairway, for some reason it was illegal.

Thankfully, the PGA Tour saw sense after many tour pros spoke out about the incident, some more tongue-in-cheek than others…

They reviewed the incident and decided that their decision was incorrect and rescinded the penalty midway through the third round, with the PGA Tour and USGA making statements:

Hopefully, for the sanity of all involved with golf, we can stop focusing on what you can and can’t do. Soon.

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