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Golf

2013 Crowne Plaza Invitational: Jeff Overton Disqualified After Obscure Rules Violation

Jake Roth – USA Today Sports

If it’s starting to seem like there’s a new Rule Of Golf to learn each week, perhaps you’re on to something. Jeff Overton learned a new one the hard way during Saturday’s third round at the Crowne Plaza Invitational.

Due to the rain delay on Friday causing the second round to be completed early Saturday morning, the tournament had threesomes teeing off on the first and tenth holes to begin round three. Overton took to Twitter after his group finished the front nine to describe what was happening.

 

The “conversation” in question revolves around Overton asking the rules officials what they could do while waiting to play. When told that they could go practice chipping and putting, Overton went to a nearby putting green and got some practice strokes in. Unfortunately, when another player asked an official about Overton’s use of a putting aid, it turned out he was unknowingly in violation of Rule 14-3/10.3, which states:

Q.During a stipulated round, a player uses a rod to check his alignment or his swing plane. What is the ruling?

A.The player is disqualified under Rule 14-3 as the rod is unusual equipment and such use, during the stipulated round, is not permitted.

Carrying the rod is not, of itself, a breach of a Rule.

The key term here is “during a stipulated round”. As soon as Overton teed off on his first hole of the round, everything he did until he holed out on the 18th would be considered part of the play of that round.

I happen to agree with Overton on this one. The Rules of Golf are complicated enough as it is, and so rarely would a player ever even think of going to a practice green during a round that there’s no way he could reasonably be expected to understand that. It would be one thing if he had used his alignment aids on the course, but that’s not what happened here. Of course, the rules officials were bound fast to the rules, which state that use of “unusual equipment” must immediately result in disqualification.

It seems to me here that while the letter of the law was upheld, justice was not done. Tiger Woods famously was able to avoid disqualification at The Masters under Rule 33-7, which states that “A penalty of disqualification may in exceptional individual cases be waived, modified or imposed if the Committee considers such action warranted.” Perhaps they should have checked on that in this case.

Brandon Raper is a golf writer for RantSports.com. “Like” him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @Brandon__Raper, or add him to your Google+ network.