Justin Rose shot a -4 under par 68 in the first round of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters on Wednesday in Doha, Qatar, but gave a stroke back at the 17th hole. After addressing the ball for his tap in par, he said the ball moved. The movement could not be verified by television cameras, and was not seen by playing partners Martin Kaymer, and Louis Oosthuizen. A rules official was called because no one knew if the ball had to be replaced or putted from the new position.
As it turned out, the ball was to be replaced, and played with a one stroke penalty. Rose made his second bogey of the day, and finished three strokes off of the lead at -7 under par posted by Ricardo Santos from Portugal. Justin is tied for 11th place with 12 other golfers including Peter Hanson, and Abu Dhabi runner up Thorbjorn Olesen.
The confusion factor on this mistake is a reason the players need to talk to an official when there is a rules infraction. If Rose had not re-spotted his ball to the original spot, he would have incurred another penalty in which had he signed an incorrect score card, would have disqualified himself for the remainder of the tournament.
The other confusion with the penalty is that all three of the golfers thought the rule had changed, and the one stroke penalty was not in effect. It was explained by the official that, had the ball moved prior to Justin’s address, he would have not been penalized, but because no one can say that he didn’t move the ball, he got the penalty. This rule was changed to keep players from gaining penalty strokes when the wind blows a ball off of it’s original spot.
The incident was talked through with an official, everyone agreed on the penalty, and there was no further damage other than Rose incurring a one stroke penalty. It could have been a disaster.
Had this procedure been followed with Tiger Woods last week in Abu Dhabi on the fifth hole, he would have made the cut, and been able to play the weekend instead catching a flight back to California, and taking the weekend off.
I think the PGA, and European Tour should make it mandatory that players consult with a rules official when there is a question. The major tournaments all have a rules official with every group in order to be available for questions. Maybe they should consider this for all tournaments, and especially high profile tournaments where losing top-tier players is both embarrassing to the tournament officials, and sponsors who were expecting their players to be around for weekend play.
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