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Pettersson’s Penalty During PGA Championship

Posted: 8/21/2012

In the final round of the 2012 PGA Championship, Carl Pettersson’s ball went in a lateral water hazard on the first hole. Before he played the stroke from the hazard, Pettersson asked the referee, who was walking with the group, if he could brush the grass with his club during the backward movement of the club for the stroke. The referee informed him that the Note to Rule 13-4 (Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions) specifically allows the player to touch grass that is growing.

In playing from the hazard, Pettersson brushed the grass during the backward movement of the club. However he also touched, and moved, a leaf that was not attached and therefore a loose impediment. This is a breach of Rule 13-4c, which states that a player must not touch or move a loose impediment before making a stroke at the ball when both the loose impediment and the ball are in the same hazard. If he does, it is a two stroke penalty.

The Definition of a Stroke is the forward movement of the club with the intention of striking at and moving the ball. The backswing is not a part of the stroke.  Therefore moving a loose impediment in the backswing is a violation of Rule 13-4c. Since Pettersson moved the leaf prior to the forward movement of his club, and was in breach of Rule 13-4c, he was assessed a two-stroke penalty. Since Rule 13-2 (Improving Lie, Area of Intended Stance or Swing, or Line of Play) does not prohibit the movement of loose impediments that Rule did not apply.

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