Should Adam Scott have received a penalty stroke when his ball moved?
Two rules incidents during the final round of the British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes warrant further explanation than was given during ESPN's telecast.
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First, Tiger Woods hit into a greenside bunker on the sixth hole. He had a poor lie, nearly against a steep lip. Woods opted to play the shot and his ball hit the lip and nearly struck him before falling back into the bunker. Had the ball struck Woods, it would have been a two-shot penalty under Rule 19-2 and the ball would be played as it lies. Announcers during the telecast, notably Paul Azinger, were also unclear what Woods' options were if he decided not to play that bunker shot. Woods had three options under the unplayable-ball rule (Rule 28). He could have taken a two-club-lengths drop, no closer to the hole, in the bunker. He could have also dropped in the bunker behind a line between where his ball lay and the hole, with no limit to how far back provided the ball was dropped in the sand. His third option would have been to replay the shot that put him in the bunker in the first place. All three options come with a one-stroke penalty.
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The second incident involved Adam Scott on the seventh hole. He hit over the back of the green and the ball came to rest on a slope in some light rough. Scott approached the ball and took a couple of practice swings a few inches from it. He then walked toward the green to get a better feel for how the ball would roll out once it got on the green. As he returned to the ball several seconds later, the ball rolled out of the rough and into a new position in a collection area. According to Rule 18-2, if Scott had caused the ball to move with his practice swing, he would have been assessed a one-stroke penalty and the ball would have to be replaced. Since Scott had not addressed the ball and since he told the rules official on hand that his practice swings did not cause the ball to move, he was allowed to play from the ball's new position with no penalty. Had he addressed the ball, he would have had to be virtually certain, as in 99 percent sure, that he did not cause the ball to move otherwise the penalty would be assessed (18-2b).
-- Ron Kaspriske