Costly Gaffe On First Hole Ends Korn Ferry Tour Rookie’s Tournament

Australian rookie John Lyras experienced a golfer’s nightmare in his first Korn Ferry Tour event Thursday morning when an incorrect drop and subsequent ball pickup on his opening hole resulted in disqualification.

Playing alongside Josh Creel and Andrew Kozan in the opening round of the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, Lyras pulled his tee shot on the par-4 10th hole right toward a penalty area. Assuming his ball was in the water, Lyras dropped a ball in front of the hazard to take a penalty stroke.

According to Creel, Lyras had dropped a ball in front of the penalty area and Kozan motioned that Lyras’ original ball was not in the water and playable. Realizing his mistake, Lyras picked up the dropped ball and played out the hole with his original. However, once a ball is dropped under Rules  6.3b(2) and 14.7b(1), it is in play and can’t be picked up.

Upon realizing his mistake, Lyras and his playing partners discussed the potential reprecussions and took their situation to a rules official a few holes later.

After reviewing the situation with Lyras and the other two players, the rules official informed the 31-year-old Australian he was disqualified.

Here is the full explanation from the KFT:

Under Rule 6.3b(2), the player having put another (substituted) ball into play with knowledge/virtual certainty at the time, was required to continue playing with the substituted ball. Further, this Rule explicitly states that the player must not play the original ball (including if it is found on the course before the end of the 3-minute search time).

By incorrectly proceeding with the original ball, the player has played from a wrong place (Rule 14.7a) and is subject to penalty. Having played from a wrong place, the player must decide (Rule 14.7b) whether to play out the hole with the ball played from the wrong place, or correct the mistake by playing from the right place. The player must correct the mistake by playing out the hole with a ball played from a right place under the Rules. In this situation, as the player did not correct the mistake before making a stroke to begin the next (11th) hole, the player is disqualified.

Under these circumstances, the player was obligated to correct the mistake/serious breach by playing a ball from the place in which he had correctly substituted and dropped 130 yards away from the green when he proceeded under Rule 17.1c.

Under Rule 14.7b(1), the outcome could have resulted in a lesser (two-stroke) penalty by correcting the mistake, returning to play from the right place and doing so before making a stroke to begin play of the next hole. However, because the player played from the teeing ground on the next hole, the window to correct his mistake had lapsed and, unfortunately, the breach results in a penalty of disqualification.

The costly ruling couldn’t have come at a worse time for Lyras, who earned conditional status on the Korn Ferry Tour after falling one stroke shy of guaranteed starts at Q-School last month. He is currently 11 spots outside of the field for next week’s event, also in the Bahamas.

“I’m not really sure what to do right now,” Lyras told Monday Q Info about his plans, considering whether to return home or remain in the islands hoping to move up the alternate list.

In an Instagram post, Lyras lamented his mistake.

“Amazing what happens when you’re super excited and anxious all together. You make stupid and quick decisions that can cost you so much, everything you worked for.”