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Shad Tuten golf

Heartbreaking! Brutal ruling costs player PGA Tour card

Shad Tuten thought he had secured his place in golf’s elite – only for a violation to a local rule to deny him

 

Shad Tuten must have thought he’d made finally made the big time.

It looked like the 31-year-old pro, who has never played a PGA Tour event, had cashed his ticket to the promised land at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship.

Thirty players would secure their spots on the season-ending points list, following the conclusion of the tournament at Victoria National, and Tuten was projected to be number 30.

Then the video emerged.

Wet conditions throughout the week meant the final round was being played under a lift, clean, and place local rule.

In the par-5 15th fairway, assessing his third shot, Tuten picked up his ball and then placed it. But the footage showed it moved very slightly forward.

He picked up his ball and placed it again – this time barely a couple of inches to the right. As soon as he then played it, his PGA Tour dreams were over.

Shad Tuten

Why does this breach the preferred lies local rule?

Here’s the problem. This Local Rule (Model Local Rule E-3 Preferred Lies) requires that players use the procedures for replacing a ball under Rule 14.2e – specifically when the player has set the ball down and let it go “with the intent for that ball to be in play”.

The ball needs to stay on its spot and, when it doesn’t, Rule 14.2e says the player must try a second time.

Only if it fails to stay on its spot again can a player place it on the “nearest spot where the ball will stay at rest”.

So when Tuten doesn’t replace it on its exact spot but moves it slightly to the right, and then makes the stroke, he is in breach.

He’s hit the ball from a wrong place – a penalty which comes with a two-stroke sanction in stroke play. Assessed after the round, it turned a birdie four on the 15th into a bogey six.

It meant his two-over-par final round 74 became a 76 and that moved him from tied 19th to tied 28th on the leaderboard. It was a swing that would have huge ramifications.

Having started the week in 29th on the Korn Ferry Tour points list, and having been projected to finish at 30th when he completed his round, Tuten dropped into 32nd.

Jim Duncan, chief referee and Korn Ferry Tour VP of rules, explained more about the decision when talking to the Golf Channel.

“Well, there was a video of him trying to place his ball under the lift, clean, and place local rule, and I think it’s pretty clear in the video that when he placed it one time that the ball rolled forward a little bit,” he said.  

“Unfortunately, that rule requires you to try to replace it on the exact same spot again, and then if it won’t stay at rest, that’s when you find the nearest place that you do – just like any other rule that requires placing.

“So when he did not try and place that ball right back on the same spot, that’s when he was under penalty, two shots, for playing from the wrong place.”

What do you think of the rules decision to penalise Shad Tuten? Was it the right one, was it harsh, or should an allowance have been made? Why not leave me a comment on X.  

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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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