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January 23, 2021

Matthew Wolff assessed retroactive penalty after video shows rules violation

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Sean M. Haffey

Matthew Wolff starts the weekend six strokes back of leader Sungjae Im rather than five after being given a one-shot penalty from his round on Thursday.

Matthew Wolff will be playing on the weekend at The American Express, but his score is one stroke higher than he expected after being retroactively assessed a penalty for a rules violation during his first round.

Walking off the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West on Friday with a five-under 67, Wolff was told by PGA Tour rules official Steve Rintoul that he had in fact violated Rule 9.4b the day before on the first hole at the Stadium Course.

Wolff’s drive on that hole found the left rough and when he took his backswing for the second shot, the ball moved. Rules official Slugger White addressed the situation with Wolff on Thursday and determined Wolff was not responsible for the ball moving, so there was no penalty.

Subsequently, video footage from PGA Tour Live of the situation was found, and after reviewing it, officials decided that Wolff had actually broken the rule, which states that “if the player lifts or deliberately touches his or her ball at rest or causes it to move, the player gets one penalty stroke.” The video showed that Wolff had been responsible for the movement of the ball.

“Once we realized there was video evidence, we had to look at it,” Rintoul said. “Matthew was extremely professional and initially thought he was in a disqualification situation. But, fortunately for him, it was not.

“He was acting under the jurisdiction of an official yesterday and understood how the penalty applies when a ball is moved by the player. Matthew said he didn’t feel like he caused the ball to move, but certainly understood that he could have. He was extremely professional about the entire situation.”

A Rules of Golf change in 2016 allows Wolff not to have to be disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard from the first round. Instead, Wolff simply adds the extra stroke, changing his one-under 71 to an even-par 72. That leaves him at five-under overall, six strokes back of leader Sungjae Im.