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Purposely taking a penalty to prevent a higher score (Phil)


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Funny hypothetical this situation made me think of....

 

You have a downhill 2 foot slider. Very fast greens. You have a 3 shot lead and you're worried about the putt getting away from you.

 

You decide to take an unplayable and drop the ball 2 feet, 1 inch below the hole. On the other side of the hole.

 

You know it's going to roll away more than 2 clubs. So you drop, redrop, then place it, then sink the 2 foot, 1 incher.

 

Is there anything wrong with what I outlined? You can take an unplayable on a green. The rule states that you have two club lengths and the ball must come to rest not nearer the hole but it doesn't say you can't cross over the hole.

 

What a great question/scenario. I'm really interested to hear what the real knowledgable guys think.

 

Yeah, me too. I don't see anything in the rule or the decisions that would prohibit it.

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City, he made a stroke at the ball, which is not the same as deflecting or stopping the ball.

 

Stopping or deflecting would be putting something out there to stop/deflect it....your foot, or even a club.

City, he made a stroke at the ball, which is not the same as deflecting or stopping the ball.

 

Stopping or deflecting would be putting something out there to stop/deflect it....your foot, or even a club.

 

The rules are clear as mud to me on this. But what should be crystal clear to anyone that was watching was that he DEFLECTED the ball. No and, ifs, or buts about it.

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City, he made a stroke at the ball, which is not the same as deflecting or stopping the ball.

 

Stopping or deflecting would be putting something out there to stop/deflect it....your foot, or even a club.

City, he made a stroke at the ball, which is not the same as deflecting or stopping the ball.

 

Stopping or deflecting would be putting something out there to stop/deflect it....your foot, or even a club.

 

The rules are clear as mud to me on this. But what should be crystal clear to anyone that was watching was that he DEFLECTED the ball. No and, ifs, or buts about it.

 

No, what is clear is that he made a STROKE at the ball.

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He clearly deflected it from going to a worse spot on purpose, whether it looked like a stroke or not. His answer about knowing it was a 2 stroke penalty was a rehearsed answer. How many other players did we see just this week have a ball take off on them and they stand there and watch it roll off? (Spieth and Woods specifically come to mind, but it happens all the time) None of them ran after it and hit the ball while it was moving. The USGA got lucky he wasn't in contention, otherwise other competitors would be up in arms.

 

Also ESPN quoted Beef Johnston as saying immediately after that Mickelson stated he didn't know what the rule was. Combine the actions on the green with what appears to be a deliberate lie after the round, he should be DQ'd.

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For the rules gurus, is it always the same penalty for the action if it is intentional as opposed to accidental in such cases? I would assume rule 14-5 is there for accidental instances of hitting a moving ball e.g. it topples of the tee and I cannot stop my swing and I strike it in motion or the ball starts to move on the green as I am making my backswing and I go though with my stroke. The rule is not intended to deal with deliberate actions.

Would the same would apply for for hitting my own equipment deliberately to prevent a ball ending up in an unfavourable position?

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For the rules gurus, is it always the same penalty for the action if it is intentional as opposed to accidental in such cases? I would assume rule 14-5 is there for accidental instances of hitting a moving ball e.g. it topples of the tee and I cannot stop my swing and I strike it in motion or the ball starts to move on the green as I am making my backswing and I go though with my stroke. The rule is not intended to deal with deliberate actions.

Would the same would apply for for hitting my own equipment deliberately to prevent a ball ending up in an unfavourable position?

 

No (if you mean by any action, not just taking a stroke). Accidentally deflecting or stopping a ball in motion by the player (or his caddie or partner) is covered under rule 19-2 and is a 1 stroke penalty (until 2019 - then there will be no penalty).

 

14-5 is for making a stroke at a moving ball - and a stroke - by definition - is never accidental. It's always purposeful and has to be made with intent. So yes, it really is intended to deal with deliberate acts.

 

In fact, for 14-5 there is a very explicit exception that if you start your stroke when the ball is at rest, and for some reason it starts moving after you start the back swing, there is no penalty under 14-5 (but there may be a penalty under 18-2 if something you did is what caused it to move). So the 2 stroke penalty for 14-5 is only intended when the player takes a stroke a ball they know is moving.

 

If you deliberately influence a ball in way other then with a stroke, then generally rule 1-2 applies (which is also generally a 2 stroke penalty - but unlike 14-5, does have a DQ clause for a "serious breach").

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But you've got to say something is seriously wrong if the guy with the best short game in the world thinks he can't do better than take 3 shots to get his ball in the hole from where it will roll off the green.

 

Let's be clear it wasn't going to finish in a lake, so it would be somewhere he has a swing at it. If the short game GOAT doesn't feel he can get down in 3 from wherever the ball would stop rolling after a putt then it just shows the course set up for the absolute joke it is

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I purposely take penalties all the time to prevent a higher score. Took an unplayable in my last round to prevent an avalanche of strokes. No one has ever tried to Dairy Queen me because of it.

 

That is a very different matter. Rule 28 says you may deem your ball unplayable but it will cost you a stroke to rescue yourself from whatever bad situation you are in. If you do so, you are following a rule, not breaking it.

 

Mickelson, on the other hand, deliberately broke a rule in order to get an advantage. The only debateable point is whether the 2 stroke penalty was sufficient for that offence or whether it was serious enough to warrant a DQ under Rule 33-7.

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I purposely take penalties all the time to prevent a higher score. Took an unplayable in my last round to prevent an avalanche of strokes. No one has ever tried to Dairy Queen me because of it.

 

That is a very different matter. Rule 28 says you may deem your ball unplayable but it will cost you a stroke to rescue yourself from whatever bad situation you are in. If you do so, you are following a rule, not breaking it.

 

Mickelson, on the other hand, deliberately broke a rule in order to get an advantage. The only debateable point is whether the 2 stroke penalty was sufficient for that offence or whether it was serious enough to warrant a DQ under Rule 33-7. I think it was and the Committee thought it wasn't.

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I do find it odd that deflecting/stopping a moving ball potentially carries a bigger penalty than making a stroke at it.

 

It's an interesting question why the DQ clause was left out. I wont pretend to speak for the usga, but a few thoughts:

 

1) 1-2 is intended to include what someone might do to a competitors (or opponents) ball or play, not just ones own ball or play.

2) The stroke is the generally accepted method for advancing a ball - so the act is not prohibited, just the particular time when the act takes place.

3) hitting a ball in motion is much harder then hitting one that's at rest, so the result of the stroke is less likely to be as beneficial (didn't seem to me to turn out to well for Phil).

4) 33-7 is always available for repeated or severe cases.

 

So typically, I would think it would be very rare that the 2 stroke penalty would not be penal 'enough'. And those cases would tend to come about because of a course set-up that's contrary to the way the usga recommends courses be set up.

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Anyone who watched that series of events in real time or on replay knows that Mickelson was intending to deflect his ball to keep it from rolling in a worse spot. It's the same thing that many of us have done when we're shooting a million on a hole in a non-tournament round and we're just trying to keep up pace of play. Except this wasn't a casual round with your buddies... this was a professional golf tournament, and a major at that. The mere fact that Phil used his putter to deflect the ball and make a stroke-like motion at the ball shouldn't change things. There's using the rules to your advantage (taking a drop when your feet are on the cart path and ending up with a better lie or angle for example), but then there is this. EVEN IF Phil knew what he was doing, and consciously decided to take the 2 stroke penalty--a fact that is in doubt when you hear from those who overheard his comments right after he did it--it doesn't pass the smell test.

 

I am not personally offended by his actions or anything, but I might suggest this particular ruling is making a mockery of the rules. With all of the silly little ways one can incur a penalty for non-deliberate actions on the course, it's just surprising that Phil gets away with this.

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Phil should man up and WD saying in retrospect it wasn't in the spirit of the game.

 

It shouldn't have been left to him though, he should have been DQ'd IMO as serious breach. However it was a stroke at the ball, in fact didn't it touch the hole going past? Would have made the discussion even more interesting if that one had hit the back of the hole and gone in.

 

Of course the USGA needs to get real on course setups from now on, echoing some TV comments that trying to trick up 100 year old courses. Bloody travesty once again.

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City, he made a stroke at the ball, which is not the same as deflecting or stopping the ball.

 

Stopping or deflecting would be putting something out there to stop/deflect it....your foot, or even a club.

City, he made a stroke at the ball, which is not the same as deflecting or stopping the ball.

 

Stopping or deflecting would be putting something out there to stop/deflect it....your foot, or even a club.

 

The rules are clear as mud to me on this. But what should be crystal clear to anyone that was watching was that he DEFLECTED the ball. No and, ifs, or buts about it.

 

No, what is clear is that he made a STROKE at the ball.

 

I agree, he did make a stroke at the ball, but (in my opinion) not in the context of rule 14. He admitted to making the stroke to "stop" it from continuing its course. I think the USGA made a political decision and not the correct decision.

 

Phil's explanation after the fact about how he knows the rules and why he did what he did is absolute BS. He did what he did out of frustration without any forethought.

 

If he really knew the rules he would have just let the ball run its course and could have declared the ball unplayable and replayed the original putt with only a 1 stroke penalty. In Phil's made up explanation, the best he could have scored was an 8, if the "phony" stroke went in. Whereas in the unplayable scenario he could have possibly made a 7.

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I purposely take penalties all the time to prevent a higher score. Took an unplayable in my last round to prevent an avalanche of strokes. No one has ever tried to Dairy Queen me because of it.

. . . The only debateable point is whether the 2 stroke penalty was sufficient for that offence or whether it was serious enough to warrant a DQ under Rule 33-7. I think it was and the Committee thought it wasn't.

 

 

I studied the video several times, and IMO they got it exactly right with just the 2sp. He seemed to deliberately strike his moving ball, violating 14-5 — as long as you consider it a “stroke” and not a “deflection.” There is no “serious breach” language around 14-5, just a clear penalty. So they’d have to go to 33-7, Committee Discretion DQ, if they wanted to DQ him. That doesn’t seem warranted given that there is an explicit penalty prescribed for what he did.

As a parallel aside, in an event I was present at where power carts were prohibited, another ref told me of a player seeing his caddie take a ride in a greenskeeper’s cart, then yelling at his caddie to immediately get out of the cart “before someone saw him” to avoid a penalty being imposed. That seemed like deliberate cheating to me, and I later asked the USGA if DQ was appropriate for such a grand etiquette violation. They sympathized with my point of view, but said DQ was inappropriate since the rules already tell you what to do in case of that violation. Seems like they analyzed the situation the same way here.

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I studied the video several times, and IMO they got it exactly right with just the 2sp. He seemed to deliberately strike his moving ball, violating 14-5 — as long as you consider it a “stroke” and not a “deflection.” There is no “serious breach” language around 14-5, just a clear penalty. So they’d have to go to 33-7, Committee Discretion DQ, if they wanted to DQ him. That doesn’t seem warranted given that there is an explicit penalty prescribed for what he did.

 

SNIP

 

 

SG, shame on you for studying and carefully thinking before you post. But given your reputation around here for such egregious actions, we are used to it :-)

 

I am pretty sure that early on in the conversation regarding Phil's actions, David Fay said something along the lines of "maybe the wording of 14-5 is more lenient than it should be". And, IMHO, your description is exactly what was on his mind.

 

dave

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The way the rules are written, it's a 2 shot penalty or disqualification if deemed to be a serious enough infraction by the rules committee. That's where the ambiguity lies. I'm sure if he had been a no name qualifier, he'd have been disqualified. He's got no chance of winning so it's a bit irrelevant. I'd think most people would understand his frustration at the set up. Cutting him a break is almost an admition of guilt by the USGA that they screwed up the set up.

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The way the rules are written, it's a 2 shot penalty or disqualification if deemed to be a serious enough infraction by the rules committee. That's where the ambiguity lies. I'm sure if he had been a no name qualifier, he'd have been disqualified. He's got no chance of winning so it's a bit irrelevant. I'd think most people would understand his frustration at the set up. Cutting him a break is almost an admition of guilt by the USGA that they screwed up the set up.

There is no mention of DQ for R 14-5, your facts are wrong.
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Good conversation and valid points. However, what strikes me in differentiating R1-2 and R14-5 and the penalty for a breach of one of those is that if a player 'deflects' his ball by a stroke with his club he should avoid the penalty of DQ opposed to a situation where they stop/deflect their ball with a foot or with a club with no stroke intention.

 

I have two questions:

1) Why should (and apparently are) two different acts with an obviously same outcome be penalized differently?

2) Why PM should not be DQ'd as he obviously tried to create a significant advantage to himself by breaking the Rules?

 

Personally that kind of act is not suitable for a professional golfer and apart to be utterly ashamed he should have been disqualified. In plain English: I detest what Phil Mickelson did.

 

EDIT: I studied some of the relevant Decisions I could quickly find and one that strikes me the most is 1-2/5.5. Is it really to be interpreted in such a manner that a player gaining significant advantage and thus guilty of serious breach stopping his rolling ball with his club is NOT guilty of serious breach if he instead of stopping the ball makes a stroke at it???

 

I just cannot accept such an interpretation.

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Good conversation and valid points. However, what strikes me in differentiating R1-2 and R14-5 and the penalty for a breach of one of those is that if a player 'deflects' his ball by a stroke with his club he should avoid the penalty of DQ opposed to a situation where they stop/deflect their ball with a foot or with a club with no stroke intention.

 

I have two questions:

1) Why should (and apparently are) two different acts with an obviously same outcome be penalized differently?

2) Why PM should not be DQ'd as he obviously tried to create a significant advantage to himself by breaking the Rules?

 

Personally that kind of act is not suitable for a professional golfer and apart to be utterly ashamed he should have been disqualified. In plain English: I detest what Phil Mickelson did.

Good to hear from you, Mr. Bean. It's been a while.

 

You're certainly entitled to feel the way you do. I temper this in my own mind -- Phil has a history of pushing the Rules (Ping wedge for example) which I find as interesting as it is controversial.

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Mr. Bean - welcome back.

 

Regarding your second question, I simply do not see a scoring advantage to Phil for what he did. He would have to take an unplayable and five putt or take 6 more strokes from off the green to do worse than he did. Seems unlikely (but not impossible, I guess).

 

I can certainly sympathize with the view that this action was in gross violation of the spirit of the game. OTOH, I can also see it from Phil's perspective. The game as he experiences it is "the rules always rule vs. what should be in an ideal world". There is this history in the US Open and elsewhere where niddling little things that have nothing to do with outcomes create penalty strokes. The DJ putting green scenario comes to mind here. Obviously the USGA agreed as they changed this rule shortly thereafter. But at the time the USGA took the strong position that "they got this one right" (even though it seems clear that they felt like the rule was wrong, else they would not have changed it).

 

So I can see a PM perspective of this being exactly in the spirit of the game as he has experienced it.

 

dave

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Good conversation and valid points. However, what strikes me in differentiating R1-2 and R14-5 and the penalty for a breach of one of those is that if a player 'deflects' his ball by a stroke with his club he should avoid the penalty of DQ opposed to a situation where they stop/deflect their ball with a foot or with a club with no stroke intention.

 

I have two questions:

1) Why should (and apparently are) two different acts with an obviously same outcome be penalized differently?

2) Why PM should not be DQ'd as he obviously tried to create a significant advantage to himself by breaking the Rules?

 

Personally that kind of act is not suitable for a professional golfer and apart to be utterly ashamed he should have been disqualified. In plain English: I detest what Phil Mickelson did.

 

EDIT: I studied some of the relevant Decisions I could quickly find and one that strikes me the most is 1-2/5.5. Is it really to be interpreted in such a manner that a player gaining significant advantage and thus guilty of serious breach stopping his rolling ball with his club is NOT guilty of serious breach if he instead of stopping the ball makes a stroke at it???

 

I just cannot accept such an interpretation.

 

Where/what is his "significant advantage" in incurring this 2 stroke penalty ?

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