Playing the second round of the PGA Championship in blustery conditions, with winds blowing up to 30 mph, Padraig Harrington felt a sense of calm. He didn’t have to worry about taking a penalty if his ball moved because of the wind.
A rule, changed this year by the game’s governing bodies, no longer penalizes players if they can say with certainty that an outside agent – like wind – forced the ball to move.
“I will say, I cannot believe how easy or how beneficial that rule change is that the ball moving on the green – like it would have been so stressful putting today, whereas, you know, it’s okay now if you know what I mean,” he said.
The impetus for the rule change came when Webb Simpson assessed himself a one-shot penalty in the final round of last year’s Zurich Classic when he grounded his putter behind the ball. The ball moved. He then lost in a playoff to Bubba Watson.
Now, a player can replace the ball without penalty under Rule 18-2b.