Tough break

Players Championship: Sungjae Im getting denied an eagle by his own pitch mark is BRUTAL

March 16, 2024

Brennan Asplen

We’ve seen on many occasions tour golfers getting hosed by hitting the flagstick with a perfectly struck approach shot. How about when the ball clangs off the stick and goes off the green or into a bunker? The worst.

On Saturday at the Players Championship, Sungjae Im suffered a horrible break because of his accuracy for a different reason: He was denied by his own pitch mark!

Caught early in the third-round online coverage at TPC Sawgrass was Im rifling an approach at the par-4 seventh. He nearly slam dunks it, with the ball making a pitch mark just a few inches behind the cup. It then spins back, seemingly headed for the hole until bumping into the pitch mark and is knocked just sideways enough to trickle to the right and stay out.

Brutal. The good thing is, the ball settled only three feet from the hole, and Im was able to covert the birdie in a round in which he was making a move at three under until finding the water at 16.

The circumstance caused a bit of a debate on X about what is the proper term for the hole the ball makes on the green. Some says it’s a “divot” mark, while a bigger group insist it’s a “pitch” mark. Logically, a divot is the chunk taken out of the fairway and a pitch mark is an impression made on the green. But people have always confused the two because manufacturers have called the pronged device we use to fix the green a “divot” repair tool.

Anyway, we’ll side with knowledgeable golf folks like our own Ron Kaspriske, who offered this perspective on the Rules of Golf and pitch marks in a story late last year.