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Patton Kizzire denied replacement driver following odd rules sequence

August 23, 2021

Sarah Stier

There is a belief that tour players rarely get a bad ruling. Not that they bend the rules, per se, but anytime there’s a jump ball, it’s not really a jump ball; the call is going in their direction. That is the prevailing opinion, at least. An opinion Patton Kizzire would like to counter.

In the final round of the rain-delayed Northern Trust, Kizzire nervously watched a wayward tee shot at Liberty National's seventh hole with his driver bent across his shoulder blades. Unfortunately for Kizzire, the driver snapped across his back. The Rules of Golf do allow for a replacement club if the equipment in question is deemed to break from an outside influence or natural forces; think back to Bryson DeChambeau’s driver shaft snapping at the 2020 PGA Championship. However, the Rules of Golf prohibit a replacement club if the club is damaged in anger:

A player is allowed to keep using and/or to repair any club damaged during the round, no matter what the damage and even if the player damaged it in anger,” says Rule 4.1 in the Rules of Golf. “A player is not allowed to replace a damaged club, except when it is damaged during the round by an outside influence or natural forces or by someone other than the player or his or her caddie.”

Kizzire believed the club did not break out of anger, or at least that was not the intent when he applied the pressure in the driver. "I was a little frustrated but I didn’t feel like I was putting enough pressure on it to break it," he said. And, after talking to a rules official, he was ready to use a replacement club at Liberty National’s 10th hole. But Jordan Spieth, who was playing with Kizzire, raised the question again if the manner in which Kizzire’s driver snapped fell under the “outside influence” umbrella.

"He was trying to protect me," Kizzire said of Spieth after the round.

Unfortunately for Kizzire, a second conversation with a rules official resulted in a change in the decision; he would not be allowed to replace the club and would have to play the rest of the round without the big stick.

Following the decision, Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport reached out to the PGA Tour for clarification.

“The player applied pressure to the shaft in frustration and the shaft broke. After discussion with a referee, and the player regarding the circumstances, it was determined that he would not be able to replace the club,” a tour spokesperson told Rapaport.

Kizzire shot a closing two-over 73 that will leave him around 50th place when the tournament ends. He entered the week 57th in the FedEx Cup points standings and when his round was over on Monday, he was expected to still be in the top 70 and advancing to the this week's BMW Championship. Had he replaced the driver and then it was deemed that he was not allowed to do so under the rules, he would have been disqualified and might have seen his 2020-21 season come to an abrupt end.