Russell Knox’s self-deprecating wit had a serious point. “Yeah, I wanted to tee my ball up in the fairway to gain an advantage but sadly I got caught, which sucked,” is what he said, although that was not what he meant at all.
Of course he hadn’t sought to tee the ball up. What the Scot was referencing was how he incurred a one-stroke penalty because his ball on the first fairway of the final round at the Pebble Beach pro-am had barely moved, yet he was penalised – under Rule 9.4 – for being the cause of it moving after he had grounded his club, picked it up and waggled it and, then, as he started to set his club down again, he saw it roll slightly.
Although a referee initially informed him there would be no penalty, a subsequent review by officials determined he was accountable and an hour, and three holes after the incident, he was informed of the one-shot penalty. A similar one-stroke penalty had been applied to American golfer Maverick McNealy on Saturday during the third round.
The rule in question has been a controversial one, which was altered after Dustin Johnson’s experience of a ball deemed to have moved on the green during his US Open win of 2016. That alteration, though, only applies if the ball moves on the green; but not if a similar situation occurs on the fairway.
“Obviously it’s a rule which I wish they would eliminate. It happened to Maverick McNealy, no advantage. And, me, obviously, no advantage and we get penalised for it,” observed Knox.
He can’t expect a change any time soon, if at all. The most recent major changes to the rulebook came into play on January 1st, 2019 – among them the knee-high drop, search time for a ball reduced to three minutes and being allowed to putt with the flagstick in – but those only came about after a six-year long consultation process.
Mack’s back on track thanks to Tiger
Willie Mack III’s main (unwanted) claim to fame so far in his career is the video that went viral of his car burning by the roadside after an engine fault. He managed to salvage his golf clubs from the boot, but everything else – wallet, clothes – went up in flames.
That was at the tailend of 2018 and the mini-tour player's journey has moved on for the better, with a number of sponsors on board . . . and an invitation from tournament host Tiger Woods to play in this week's Genesis Invitational at famed Riviera.
Mack received the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption – which has been awarded since 2009 to a golfer who represents a minority background – into this week’s PGA Tour stop, marking what will be his second outing on the US circuit this year. He missed the cut at last month’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
Providing some inspiration to Mack will be the fact that two former recipients of that exemption are in the field this week in their own right, Harold Varner III and Cameron Champ.
Word of Mouth
"I wouldn't be teeing it up if I didn't think I could win . . . it's very, very hard to win on the PGA Tour, you have to play really exceptional golf to get the job done. You don't have to be perfect, but you have to play really, really good" – Maverick McNealy after a career-best runner-up finish to Daniel Berger in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Still seem to be recovering well here @attproam @PGATOUR Just spent 10 minutes searching for the remote control. Either quarantine is messing with my head or more likely I need to clean up my room – Pádraig Harrington, who hopes to complete his period of self-isolation at Pebble Beach in time to drive down to Los Angeles (a 300 miles, five-hours drive on Wednesday night) and tee up in the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club.
Is Pebble Beach an overrated course . . . Hmm I think so, 6 or so dramatic holes the rest . . . Mansions and Condos – former European Tour player Andrew Murray speaks his mind.
Get the golf courses open @niexecutive @dupleader Fresh air, exercise, and new conversations with a pal or two while socially distanced. Make people happy again – former Ulster, Ireland and Lions rugby player Stephen Ferris making his plea to open up golf in the North.
By the Numbers: 48
Dustin Johnson, the world number one, returns to action on the PGA Tour at this week's Genesis Invitational having bypassed Pebble Beach, citing tiredness and jet-lag following his Saudi Arabia excursion. DJ's return at Riviera brings him back to a happy hunting ground: he won in 2017, and over the last five years Johnson is a combined 48-under-par, eight shots better than any other player in that period.
On this day: February 16th, 2003
The big question which hung over Tiger Woods – following knee surgery – was answered emphatically by the man himself, who marked his return to competition with a 35th career win on the PGA Tour in the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines.
Woods underwent the surgeon's scalpel in the off-season and was rusty over the opening two rounds, hitting a total of just eight fairways, but working his magic with his short game and putter to lie just two shots adrift at the midpoint. A third round 68 moved him a stroke clear of Brad Faxon through 54-holes and a closing 68 for 16-under-par 272 ultimately gave him a four-strokes winning margin over Sweden's Carl Pettersson.
“I know I answered my questions. Mine was whether this knee would hold up for 72 holes and would it be sore? My competitive feeling on the golf course came back. It was a successful week,” observed Woods, who hadn’t played in more than two and a half months dating back to the Phoenix Dunlop tournament in Japan.
In the Bag
Daniel Berger (AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am)
Driver: TaylorMade SIM (9 degrees)
3-wood: TaylorMade M6 (15 degrees)
Irons: Callaway Apex Forged ’16 (3 iron), TaylorMade TP Mc ’11 (4-PW)
Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy Forged (50 and 56 degrees), Callaway Mack Daddy 4 (60 degrees)
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour X Chalk
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Know the Rules
In a playoff, Player A and Player B have each played three shots to reach the green and are within tap-in distance of the hole. However, when asked, Player A mistakenly gives the wrong number of strokes to Player B and that mistake results in Player B lifting her ball believing she has lost the playoff. It is only after Player B lifts his ball that Player A realises her error and corrects it. What happens?
Under Rule 1.3c/2 (Applying disqualification penalties, concessions and wrong number of strokes in a strokeplay playoff), Player B is allowed to replace the ball without penalty and complete the hole. There is no penalty to Player A.