Golf is hard enough as it is when nature isn't conspiring against us. But a leaf had the audacity on Sunday in the final round of the 2017 DAP Championship in the third leg of the Web.com Tour Finals to cause a player some extra-special pain and suffering.
Matthew Southgate is in the running for earning his PGA Tour card through the four-event series, and he was putting on the 15th at Canterbury Golf Club near Cleveland. He stuck his putt at the cup, and a passing, blown leaf struck his ball and caused it to veer offline. Southgate couldn't believe it.
— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) September 24, 2017
Even worse, he then took on a four-stroke penalty. You see, Southgate finished out the hole after that unfortunate break. Under the Rules of Golf, particularly Rule 19-1, Southgate was supposed to replace his ball and replay the putt. Since he didn't, he was required to take a two-stroke penalty for not replaying the shot.
Here's the text of Rule 19-1:
Rule 19 - Ball in Motion Deflected or Stopped
19-1. By Outside Agency
If a player's ball in motion is accidentally deflected or stopped by any outside agency, it is a rub of the green, there is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies, except:
a. If a player's ball in motion after a stroke other than on the putting green comes to rest in or on any moving or animate outside agency, the ball must through the green or in a hazard be dropped, or on the putting green be placed, as near as possible to the spot directly under the place where the ball came to rest in or on the outside agency, but not nearer the hole, and
b. If a player's ball in motion after a stroke on the putting green is deflected or stopped by, or comes to rest in or on, any moving or animate outside agency, except a worm, insect or the like, the stroke is canceled. The ball must be replaced and replayed.
If the ball is not immediately recoverable, another ball may be substituted.
Exception: Ball striking person attending or holding up flagstick or anything carried by him - see Rule 17-3b.
Note: If a player's ball in motion has been deliberately deflected or stopped by an outside agency:
- (a) after a stroke from anywhere other than on the putting green, the spot where the ball would have come to rest must be estimated. If that spot is:
- (i) through the green or in a hazard, the ball must be dropped as near as possible to that spot;
- (ii) out of bounds, the player must proceed under Rule 27-1; or
- (iii) on the putting green, the ball must be placed on that spot.
- (b) after a stroke on the putting green, the stroke is canceled. The ball must be replaced and replayed.
If the outside agency is a fellow-competitor or his caddie, Rule 1-2 applies to the fellow-competitor. (Player's ball deflected or stopped by another ball - see Rule 19-5)
After the round, he was hit with another two-stroke penalty under Rule 6-6d for signing for an incorrect score for a violation of the Rules of Golf of which he was unaware.
There was some initial confusion as Web.com Tour live scoring showed a three-stroke penalty. However, that was explained later by Tour officials on Twitter.
Instead of making his second attempt at that putt for a par, he wound up making a quadruple-bogey 8. It was part of a brutal finish for Southgate, who also played the final two holes in 4 over par. He turned in 79 on Sunday, finishing next to dead last among the weekend field. If he finished without that 8-over finish in the final four holes, Southgate is handily on to the PGA Tour next season, regardless of what happens at the Web.com Tour Championship. Instead? He has a big sweat to remain in the Web.com Tour Finals 25.