Rahm Escapes Another Rules Controversy


The only thing more impressive than being involved in two rules controversies in three weeks is not being assessed a single penalty stroke. Jon Rahm found himself in yet another interesting ruling on Thursday at the Open Championship on the par-5 17th aat Royal Birkdale when he went to remove a piece of vegetation from near his ball in the thick rough. However, the move caught the attention of his playing partner, Lee Westwood.

“I got there and I thought it was a loose impediment because it looked dead, so I just moved it to the side,” Rahm explained. “And that’s when Lee came and he realized it was attached.”

The rules official on the scene asked Rahm whether the move improved his lie or not. If it did, he would be subject to a two-shot penalty under Rule 13-2. However, Rahm was adamant that it did not.

“It was just over an inch right of my ball,” Rahm said. “It was not on my line and it would not have affected my swing unless I were to hit a 50-yard slice.”

It was decided that Rahm would tentatively be assessed the two-stroke penalty and the final decision would be determined after the round. He finished 1-over 71, which included the two-stroke penalty. However, after further discussion, the penalty was rescinded and Rahm signed for a 1-under par 69. 


“The discussion was it an improvement of the lie or not; that’s it,” Rahm said. “I explained my version of what happened. Unfortunately for me, I was the only one who saw it; there were no cameras to back me up. That’s what happened and it was never on my lie, it was never on my line, it was never on my swing path, it was not going to bother my in any way.

“Well, at the end of the day it’s not my call, honestly. I can describe what happened as honestly and truthfully as possible, as detailed as can happen and they make the judgment call. It’s up to them. They did say it’s a very fine line, I would have been fine with whatever the rules official — they know the rules better than any of us and it’s their call. I said the same two weeks ago. It was their call to give me a penalty stroke or not. It’s not up to me, obviously.”

Rahm finds himself tied for 26th, four shots behind a trio of American leaders including Jordan Spieth, reigning U.S. Open Champion Brooks Koepka and good guy Matt Kuchar, each of whom took advantage of the benign conditions on Thursday.

Here’s a look at the highlights from the first round at Royal Birkdale. 



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