Furyk Wins, Golf Loses A Fan
By Kickntrue on 4/19/10
Jim Furyk won for the 2nd time in 2010. While he was celebrating, I was trying to explain to my wife why the playoff putts didn't matter. She couldn't fully grasp how lightly brushing a reed on a backswing gave Brian Davis a huge advantage and cost him a 2 stroke penalty. Silly girl.

Fortunately- Davis has already sealed his fate with his shot from the hazard and Furyk was going to win anyway. If Davis had hit the shot to about 3 feet- this would be a lot bigger deal today.

If you have no clue what I'm talking about...
Davis, an Englishman who’s never won on the PGA Tour, used a birdie on the 72nd hole to force the extra hole. However, Davis’ approach rolled off the green of the lighthouse hole and into some rocks.

As Davis attempted to chip on, his wedge moved a loose reed in the marshy area. Davis quickly called for a rules official, who after calling colleagues to check the replay, confirmed the penalty.

“I thought I saw movement,” Davis said. “It’s a disappointment.”

Davis conceded to Furyk before the world’s sixth-ranked player putted out.
I heard the announcers praising Davis saying that this act by him was going to win him a lot of fans. I disagree. Nobody wants to root for a loser. I'm kind of being facetious but it's true- this will be a small footnote in the tournament's history and within 2 weeks nobody will remember Davis' name.

Now- on to Furyk who by the way, won the tournament. He's from Pennsylvania, so you know he's a good guy. That does mean he comes with some baggage. I mentioned earlier I was watching with my wife- well, they kept showing Furyk's wife and kid. This is no joke- my wife (not from Pennsylvania) said, "Man- his kid is not so cute. He looks like he's from Pennsylvania." Of course she had no clue. So- there, Ohio, some ammo for your clip.

I feel it'd be unfortunate if I didn't at least give some time to the actual rule that got Davis in trouble. As the rule is written- it actually makes sense. It's more that this was a terrible example of the rule in action.
13-4. Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions

Except as provided in the Rules, before making a stroke at a ball that is in a hazard (whether a bunker or a water hazard) or that, having been lifted from a hazard, may be dropped or placed in the hazard, the player must not:

c. Touch or move a loose impediment lying in or touching the hazard.
The idea of the rule is that when in a hazard you cannot move objects behind the ball to give you a clean swing path (like you could outsize a hazard). So- while I usually like to rip on the rules of golf- this isn't such a bad one. I do wish there was some subjectivity though.

Oh well- like I said up top- Furyk was going to win anyway. Congrats to him!

Full Story
Rule 13-4
video of penalty

photo source

[ comments ]
k-von says:
Instances like this where the unique rules of golf sadistically punish a player for committing a violation that give him absolutely no advantage obviously suck. But the flip side is that golf tries to limit the grey area that you more prevalently see in other sports. You can complicate rules in an attempt to more fairly govern play, but then you invite room for suspect interpretation (a la "making a football move," "swinging with intent," just about every rule in basketball, etc.). Besides, in a sport where a two-inch tap in counts exactly the same as a perfectly placed 350-yard drive, you have to pretty much become accustomed to getting screwed.
steven.pease says:
Nice blog - funny in a Pennsylvania sort of way.
birdieXris says:
Well the rules are the rules. They can help or they can hurt. Everyone plays by the same rules too so it's not like it's helping or hurting any one individual in any unique situation. if Furyk was in the same spot he would have been penalized the same. In this case he's in a hazard. Had he not been in a hazard, it wouldn't have been a penalty. Moral of this story: Don't hit your ball into hazards.
GolfGeek69 says:
OK, one moment. This is the kind of golf ruling that just doesn't make sense and I would like to truly understand if I am missing something. The note at the end of Rule 13-4 states "Note: At any time, including at address or in the backward movement for the stroke, the player may touch, with a club or otherwise, any obstruction, any construction declared by the Committee to be an integral part of the course or any grass, bush, tree or other growing thing." The rule, if you read the intent is to prevent an improvement. I watched the video 4 times and I didn't see anything move. It looks the same after as before. I think, he just did it to get it over with. It doesn't make sense. Even if he did move a reed in his back swing, I think the note covers that. Plus his back swing wasn't slow and calculating trying to move something, so I think it is unfair to penalize him.
dlouder says:
This is where I think golf shines over other sports. It really is a game of honesty, no other sports allow you to call a penalty on yourself. I commend Davis for stepping up and do the right thing, I was rooting for Furyk but after Davis took the penalty i wished he chipped it in to add drama.

@ Golfgeek69 - Golf Channel replayed the backswing in slow-mo about 100 times, in his backswing the 'bump' of his wedge brushes that reed, pushing it downward ever so slightly. There is movement, he didn't throw in the towel, he was being a great golf player.
SingleDigits says:
I didn't notice Furyk's kid -- was too busy checking out his wife's cleavage.
scottccherry says:
@Golfgeek69 - That rule is for when you're OUT of a hazard, but the rule is different in. Outside, you can hit stuff in your real backswing with no penalty, but it is illegal to ground your club in any way in the hazard until you start your "stroke" (defined as the forward move of the clubhead to the ball).
Kickntrue says:
@dlouder- While it was the right thing to do- let's not give these guys ALL the credit in the world. These guys know they are being shown on HDTV all over the world. If he doesn't turn himself in- someone else catches it- and then it's a HUGE story- about what kind of cheater he is.
activesense says:
How many amateur golfers knew that what Davis did was a penalty before the story broke, and how many of those that did would call it on themselves?
dlouder says:
@kickntrue - While that may be the case, he didn't hesitate at all. He hit the shot, saw where it landed, then immediately called for the VP of Rules (who, by the way, didn't know the rule?! How is he in that role?!)
birdieXris says:
@ everyone: here's something i found. Definitions as stated in the USGAROG2010 state "Loose impediments" are natural objects inclding: stones, leaves, twigs, branches and the like, dung, worms insects and the like, and the casts and heaps made by them PROVIDED THEY ARE NOT: fixed or growing, SOLIDLY EMBEDDED, or adhering to the ball.

Now i didn't see the whole ordeal and don't know what was done, but would his action actually constitute a breach? it appeared that the twig he hit was actually pretty solidly embedded since it didn't move. it just bounced. Grass moves but it's solidly embedded. Was the rules official wrong in this case? I didn't even think about this beforehand.

Perhaps i did miss something since i didn't see it, and it was very loose. What say you, golfing public?
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