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Russell Knox

The Slam: Is all this PGA Tour rules drama creating an uneven playing field?

Two PGA Tour stars were pinged with penalty shots after the cameras caught them out at Pebble Beach. Alex Perry wraps up all the talking points in The Slam

 

Hello. Welcome to another edition of the Slam. There was only one event this week – on the PGA Tour – which was probably just as well given the amount of fun we had at Pebble Beach – and this was without the celebrities in tow.

Jordan Spieth had another 54-hole lead and another top-5 finish, which was just lovely.

I wrote enough about him last week and I don’t want to start typecasting myself, but this isn’t a one-member fan club. It’s patently clear from social media that I’m not alone in this. If he wins the Masters again it might just break the internet.

Right, here’s what you may have missed on the California coast.

Happens to the best of us

Francesco Molinari did his best to make it feel like the celeb hackers were there when he did this on Saturday…

The best bit about this is he doesn’t even acknowledge it, like he meant to do it. I wish I could play it that cool after a stone-cold top.

On the Lash

It will never not amuse me that Nate Lashley’s girlfriend is called Ashley.

But he wasn’t laughing on Sunday when, while co-leading, he four-putted from all of 10 feet.

That’s a lot of cash spent the space of just a couple of minutes.

The footage cuts off shortly before Lashley rather petulantly slams his club into the putting surface – which will almost certainly see him booted out of the club by the committee.

Treesy does it: Michael Greller steps in

Tom Hoge found the tree on the par-5 18th, so Spieth’s caddie Michael Greller tried to help him out…

Unfortunately, by the time he’d made his way through the branches the three-minute time allowed to look for a lost ball had passed and Hoge was forced back to the tee.

Yes, I’m thinking the same as you. Why aren’t my playing partners this helpful when I lose my ball?

More rules fun

Another week, another rules incident on the PGA Tour.

Two, in fact.

Maverick McNealy and Russell Knox were both pinged by Rule 9.4 – Ball Lifted or Moved by Player – which penalises players a shot if they cause their ball to move.

McNealy’s incident happened in the rough by the par-3 5th green during Saturday’s third round. As the Californian prepared to hit his chip, his ball moved.

McNealy called a rules official, who asked him: “Do you know, or are you virtually certain, that you caused it to move?”

“I don’t think I caused it to move because I was being careful,” McNealy replied.

The rules official called a colleague, who watched it back on the tape and disagreed. After a lengthy discussion McNealy was informed he would be getting a one-shot penalty.

McNealy would go on to finish 2nd, two shots back.

Twenty-four hours later, Knox, in the middle of the fairway on Pebble’s opening hole, called an official when he also spotted his ball on the move.

Having told the official his ball had moved while he was waggling, video footage showed it was in fact at address and, having just horseshoed a three-foot birdie putt at the 4th, was then told his par back at the 1st was now a bogey.

Both the right call, I’m sure you’ll agree, but it does bring up an age-old question.

Are penalty shots being missed by players not on camera?

Let’s take these two instances. Neither player – quite reasonably – believed they caused their ball to move. Neither player knew, or were virtually certain, that they caused their ball to move.

Had they not been on camera, these penalty shots would not have been dished out.

And while the video footage proved they were justified, it’s difficult to argue that it’s a fair playing field when some players are having rules incidents reviewed on film and others are left to their own judgment.

It’s like having VAR at one end of a football pitch but not the other.

Thought for the day

Remember when there was footage of Patrick Reed’s ball bouncing at Torrey Pines?

So who won? It was Daniel Berger!

Daniel Berger played his 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th rounds of par or better in a row – the longest active streak on the PGA Tour – and it all added up to 18-under-par and his fourth PGA Tour title.

Safely on the par-5 green in two, Berger realistically had two putts to win it. He only needed one.

Right, that’s enough from me. Tiger’s event next week – even though he’s not playing. You can follow me on Twitter if that’s your thing.

What did you make of the PGA Tour rules issues? Have you ever fallen foul of issues similar to these PGA Tour rules infringements? Tell us on X!

Alex Perry

Alex Perry

Alex has been the editor of National Club Golfer since 2017. A Devonian who enjoys wittering on about his south west roots, Alex moved north to join NCG after more than a decade in London, the last five of which were with ESPN. Away from golf, Alex follows Torquay United and spends too much time playing his PlayStation or his guitar and not enough time practising his short game.

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