A Jordan Spieth bathroom emergency led to a PGA Tour change in its rules on scorecard disqualifications

June 18, 2024

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The PGA Tour is making a competition change regarding its procedures for turning in scorecards and when disqualifications might occur.

Tour player Michael Kim posted a tour memo X Tuesday morning that illustrated a new 15-minute window for players to “to correct an error on his scorecard, even if he has left the scoring area.” According to the memo, this means:

• If a scorecard is validated in the scoring system and the player has left the scoring area, he may return to correct an error within 15 minutes of validation.

• If a player has left the scoring area and an error is identified before the scorecard is validated in the scoring system, he may return to correct the error within 15 minutes of the error being identified by the scoring official.

• If a player is in the scoring area when the 15 minutes expires, his scorecard is returned when he leaves the scoring area.

Disqualifications are relatively uncommon for incorrect scoring, happening a handful of times per year, but an incident with Jordan Spieth at the Genesis Invitational this winter may have helped spur the amendment.

The PGA Tour announced that Spieth had signed for a 3 on Riviera Country Club’s par-3 fourth hole instead of the 4 he actually made, leading to his disqualification. Spieth took full responsibility for the matter and apologized on social media. However, it emerged afterwards that Spieth was sick and was in a rush to reach the bathroom following his round, thus not having time to check his card.

"He was really sick and he had a rough last hole," Xander Schauffele explained. "I can see how it all went down."

Technically speaking, this is not a rules change or the implementation of a new Model Local Rule, but rather a competition change. Within the Rules of Golf, competition committees have the flexibility to determine how and when a scorecard is returned (Rule 3.3b(2)) on a per-competition basis

The change is going into effect immediately on all PGA Tour sanctioned circuits, as well as the DP World Tour.