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British Open 2023: Watch Gary Woodland smash a 3-wood directly into a fence in the most bizarre decision of the week


Andrew Redington

On the third and 18th holes at Royal Liverpool this week, there are temporary blue fences separating the players from the spectators. Despite all the internal out-of-bounds controversy, the blue fence down the left side of the 18th hole is not an out-of-bounds line. If you hit it to the left of it, like Gary Woodland did on Thursday, you can play it without penalty.

You can even get relief from the fence depending how close you are to it thanks to a quirkly local rule that you'd only ever see in an Open Championship. Normally, on the PGA Tour, players can manipulate the temporary immovable obstruction (TIO) rule in their favor any time a TV tower or grandstand is in their line of sight. But in this case, the rule states that you need to be within four club lengths of the blue fence in order to be granted relief, the relief being a free drop on the correct side of the blue fence.

Unfortunately for Woodland, he was well past four club lengths—and paid the price for it. For some reason, he attempted to hit a 3-wood from a bad lie, as opposed to taking extra loft to ensure he would get back into play. You already know what happened next:

Another angle shows just how bizarre a decision this was from the former U.S. Open winner. The ball appears to be on a slight downslope, which will only make it come out lower. On top of that, Woodland is famous for his low trajectory. Obviously he's thinking he can get this one up quickly, but he quickly found out just impossible of a task that was:

Brutal. Luckily, there were only a few fans standing to the left of Woodland and nobody got hit. Woodland went on to make a gutsy par to open with a two-over 73. He's already in with an even-par 71 on Friday, putting him at two over for the week, directly on the projected cut line. Now he'll wait, and probably not stop thinking about what could have been had he just taken a 7 iron and gotten it back into play.

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Is it the British Open or the Open Championship? The name of the final men’s major of the golf season is a subject of continued discussion. The event’s official name, as explained in this op-ed by former R&A chairman Ian Pattinson, is the Open Championship. But since many United States golf fans continue to refer to it as the British Open, and search news around the event accordingly, Golf Digest continues to utilize both names in its coverage.

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