They say when rains it pours, so when it comes to questionable golf rulings it seems to be teeming. On the same day Ernie Els called a penalty on himself at the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship, fellow South African countryman Branden Grace used a rule to his advantage on Thursday which angered some of his peers.
Grace was in a tie for the first-round lead but was facing a big number when he found his approach shot on the par-4 12th hole at Wentworth Club plugged in the face of a greenside bunker. After digging in to take his stance, he called a rules official over because his foot appeared to have been sliding on the bunker lining underneath the sand. After a brief discussion, it was determined he was indeed allowed relief. After a quick rake job, Grace took his drop without the ball plugging again and knocked it on the green.
“It was ridiculous,” former Europe Ryder Cup captain and part-time Sky Spots TV analyst Paul McGinley said, according to the Telegraph. “If you twist your feet enough, you’re bound to eventually reach the bunker lining. That means anytime a player wants relief from a poor lie he can simply twist his feet until he reaches the bunker lining. That can’t be right.”
Former Masters Champion Danny Willett dropped in from the social media rafters during the telecast looking for an explanation as well:
@EuropeanTour please explain that drop?! Burying feet enough in to get to the base of the bunker???
— Danny Willett (@Danny_Willett) May 25, 2017
Ironically, Jonathan Smart, Willett’s longtime caddie who quit last month, is on Grace’s bag this week.
“I actually knew the ruling from a couple of years ago in China at the [WGC] HSBC Champions,” Grace said. “My ball was found outside the bunker, but the only stance I had was inside the bunker and the same thing happened. When I took the stance, there was only one or two inches of sand and my foot kept sliding on the material, the rubber, underneath the sand.”
“A rule is a rule, and I took advantage of the rule there, and it helped knowing the rule in some respects,” Grace continued. “Fortunately for me, I got away with a good drop but I still made bogey. I can understand if some people criticize you for standing in the middle of the bunker and going too deep, but if you’re standing on the upslope it’s not always easy getting a stance.”
It’ll be interesting to see if golf’s governing bodies have an opinion on this one. Stay tuned!
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