Two days after lamenting the new dropping protocol under the modernized Rules of Golf, Jordan Spieth nearly fell victim to the penalty for an improper drop during his first round of the year.
“You drop it knee height, but what’s the advantage of dropping it shoulder height?” Spieth said during his pre-tournament press conference on Tuesday at the Sony Open in Hawaii. “It’s actually probably a disadvantage, so why can’t you still do that?
“You should be able to drop it from shoulder to knee height, in my opinion. It doesn’t do any good and honestly, it’s a frustrating asterisk that I have to re-pick it up and re-drop from your knee.”
On the 15th hole of his first round of 2019, Spieth prepared to take free relief from a sprinkler head just as he has his entire life, and therein lies the problem. Thankfully, Spieth had his caddie, Michael Greller, and PGA Tour rules official Slugger White nearby to prevent him from dropping from shoulder height.
Fantastic. Spieth goes for his first drop of the year, from a sprinkler head, holds the ball out shoulder height and Slugger White jumps in with a “Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Eventually got it right. pic.twitter.com/WKGwJTWAKR
— Doug Ferguson (@dougferguson405) January 10, 2019
“I started to go from the shoulder and Michael and Slugger, they stepped in, ‘No, no, no.’ I’m like, ‘Wouldn’t it just be a re-drop anyway? What’s the big deal?’” Spieth said. “It’s unusual.”
That wasn’t the only instance the new rules affected his round, either. Spieth, who is dealing with enough on the greens as is, had to think twice about tapping in on his first hole of the day.
“The first hole today, I tapped in with the flagstick [in the hole], and I didn’t feel right doing that,” he said. “I tapped down one spike mark today on [No. 4] for par. It was really nice. It was sticking up right in the line on about a 4-footer. All in all, I got a test of most of the new rules today.”
The new rules seem to be the least of Spieth’s worries as the three-time major champion struggled to a 3-over par 73 in round one to land him in a tie for 127th place.
“It’s unusual; I don’t feel like I’ve been in this situation before,” Spieth said. “It’s okay, I felt like I was paitent out there and still am right now. Like I said, could take a while, but I got pretty far off and I’m trying to backtrack significantly. I need to get some tournamnet rounds to do it, but it’s humbling at the same time.”
Spieth will look for a bounce-back round on Friday as he tees off alongside Bryson DeChambeau and Gary Woodland at 5:40 p.m. ET.