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Matsuyama ball moved

Did Matsuyama’s ball move at the Genesis Invitational?

A marvellous closing round of 62 came with the usual asterisk attached from some on social media. Our Rules expert explains what happened at Riviera

 

Welcome to another episode of ‘a lot of fuss about nothing’. A fixture of tour golf now seems to be a gang of budding Sherlock Holmes’s hanging off the edge of their keyboards trying to catch a player in the act of skulduggery.

The conspiracy theorists thought they’d caught a doozy when Hideki Matsuyama, on his way to fashioning a quite superb final round 62 that won him the Genesis Invitational at Riviera, addressed a chip on the 17th.

Here’s the moment replayed for the people who may not yet have seen it.

THE BALL MOVED! So screamed the ether after replays showed the ball rocking ever so slightly when Matsuyama put clubhead behind the ball. Cue lots of drama about one-shot penalties.

It is true this is the sanction when a player causes a ball to move. It’s found in Rule 9.4b. But is that what really happened here?

Matsuyama ball moved

Matsuyama ball moved: Did Hideki cause his ball to move at the Genesis Invitational?

Er, no. Sorry to disappoint anyone still clinging onto this but the ball didn’t move – not as classed in the Rules of Golf anyway.

To get the answer, you’ve got to ignore rule numbers entirely and check out the definitions. When you arrive at M, for ‘Moved’, you’ll find it’s defined as “when a ball at rest has left its original spot and come to rest on any other spot, and this can be seen by the naked eye (whether or not anyone actually sees it do so).”

Does Hideki’s ball leave its original spot and come to rest on any other spot? It clearly doesn’t.

For anyone still wavering, much like the ball, the definition goes further. “If the ball only wobbles (sometimes referred to as oscillating) and stays on or returns to its original spot, the ball has not moved.”

In the definition, the word ‘moved’ is highlighted in bold – as if to further hammer home the point that it has, well, NOT MOVED.

And you should all be happy the definition is written this way. Because there isn’t a club golfer on the planet that wouldn’t fall foul of this one – sometimes repeatedly during a round – if the law was anything else.

So let’s just settle down and revel in one of the great final rounds – rather than trying to find a smoking gun that isn’t there.

Now have your say

Do you agree with this Hideki Matsuyama ball moved ruling? Have the Rules of Golf got it right? Let me know by leaving me a comment on X.

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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