The Sergio Ruling
LOUISVILLE--If you watching the Anthony Kim-Sergio Garcia match that led off Sunday's Ryder Cup, here's the official word on the ruling on Garcia's tee shot on the sixth hole, courtesy of PGA of America Rules Committee members Mark Wilson, Kerry Haigh and Ken Lindsay:
Garcia's tee shot on No. 6 drifted into heavy rough on the hill off the right side of the fairway. Match referee John Paramor was called in for assistance.
Garcia first had to identify his ball, which is permitted through the Rules of Golf. Then Garcia decided the only way that he could play the shot was backward [away from the water between his ball and the green], and in doing so, one of his feet was touching a step on a cement staircase on the hill.
At that point, Garcia and Paramor conferred. Paramor said to Garcia that he could not grant relief because it was clearly unreasonable to play this stroke. Garcia agreed. (Note "Exception" below.)
Garcia then declared his ball unplayable and asked Paramor his options on where to play his next shot. Garcia was advised that he could either play the ball as it laid or take a drop in the fairway no closer to the hole.
Garcia then took a drop in the fairway. He then hit his third shot to the green and two-putted for bogey 5 [falling 2 down in the match that he lost, 5 and 4]. There was no issue related to the time it took to determine the final ruling.
See the following Rules of Golf, page 72:
24-2. Immovable Obstruction.
Interference by an immovable obstruction occurs when a ball lies in or on the obstruction, or when the obstruction interferes with the player's* stance* or the area of his intended swing. If the player's ball lies on the putting green, interference also occurs if an immovable obstruction on the putting green intervenes on his line of putt. Otherwise, intervention on the line of play is not, of itself, interference under this Rule.
Exception: A player may not take relief under this Rule if (a) it is clearly unreasonable for him to make a stroke because of interference by anything other than an immovable obstruction or (b) interference by an immovable obstruction would occur only through use of an unnecessarily abnormal stance, swing or direction of play.