Rules: Hatton Eliminated Following Rules Breach


The high stakes of professional match play can cause tempers to flair and patience to run short. That’s exactly what happened with England’s Tyrrell Hatton during his three-for-one playoff to emerge from Group 10 last week at the WGC-Dell Match Play.

Having won his first two matches of pool play, Hatton struggled on Friday and lost his final match to Rafa Cabrera-Bello, which forced a three-way playoff to determine who would represent the group in the knockout rounds. Along with Charles Howell III, Hatton and Cabrera-Bello headed to the first tee for a sudden death playoff.

Hatton earned the upper hand on his fellow competitors by hitting his approach shot to just outside 10 feet. However, after missing his first putt and preparing to tap in his par, Hatton accidentally moved his ball. 

Luckily — it would appear — for Hatton, the tournament had a Local Rule in place that would allow him to replace and accidentally moved ball with no penalty, much like the new proposed rule. 


The USGA explains what happened next.

The Local Rule still requires that the ball, when accidentally moved on the putting green, be replaced in its original location if the player caused the movement. In this case, Hatton caused the ball’s movement, so he needed to replace it, without penalty, before playing his next stroke. However, since Hatton played the ball from its new location, he incurred a penalty for playing from a wrong place (Rule 20-7).

The penalty for playing from a wrong place is loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play. Interestingly, even though this WGC event was conducted at match play, any playoff with three or more players was conducted under stroke-play rules. Therefore, Hatton was penalized two strokes, turning his par into a double bogey and opening the door for Charles Howell III to advance to the Round of 16.

[Golf ChannelUSGA]


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