Wilson Avoids Two-Stroke Penalty

LEMONT, Ill. — The 77 was hard enough to swallow. At least Mark Wilson didn’t have to absorb a two-stroke penalty like he feared might happen after his club grazed the sand in the green-side bunker at the 14th hole.

The situation arose after Wilson had marked his ball in the sand on the par 3 so his playing partner Justin Rose could hit his second shot. When Wilson replaced his ball he saw the indentation in the sand.

58711388Wilson called rules official Brad Fabel over as soon as the hole was complete. Fabel told him they were actually already aware of what happened — “That’s TV for you,” Wilson said with a wry smile — and were discussing whether he should be penalized for grounding his club in a bunker.

When Wilson finished his round, Slugger White, vice president of rules and competition for the PGA TOUR, went into the scorer’s trailer to talk with him. The decision? No infraction occurred.

White said he and the other rules officials deliberated for about 45 minutes. Eventually they determined that the situation fell under the exception to Rule 13.4 that says there is no interference when lifting or replacing the ball — “provided nothing constitutes testing of the hazard and he did not do that,” White said. “We were very comfortable with that.”

“I didn’t realize it until I lifted myself up and I saw a mark,” Wilson said. “I’m like, oh no. that’s my club that made that mark. We talked to the USGA about it and they feel good about the decision. I couldn’t lobby for it at all, I just had to sit there and wait. I’m glad it went in my favor.”

Rose said he would have felt “pretty guilty” if there had been a penalty assessed since he was the one who asked Wilson to mark his ball.

“When he’s gone down to replace it, obviously your body is in an unusual act, you’re in the bunker but you’re in a hazard, but he’s obviously in some sense grounded his club somewhat trying to stay balanced, I suppose,” Rose said. “But I believe no penalty, and I think that was the right decision. There was certainly no way he was ever testing the surface. That would have been a harsh thing to have happened.”

Wilson, who had started the third round tied for the lead with Rose, ended up making a double bogey on the next hole and a bogey at No. 16. He refused to use the uncertainty over whether he would get a penalty as an excuse.

Tee’d Off Tee Times was happy to hear what Wilson said.  “I’ve got to focus that I made a 5 at 14 and it will be a bonus if I get a 3. Turns out there was an exception to the rule that worked in my favor. I’m happy that it worked out OK.”

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM


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