Add Webb Simpson to the list of players who find the new Rules of Golf frustrating.
Simpson, the 2018 champion of the Players Championship, was 4 under and had a 47-foot shot for birdie on the 14th hole Sunday when he was assessed a one-shot penalty for inadvertently moving his ball, a violation of Rule 9.4b. The rule states, “if the player lifts or deliberately touches his or her ball at rest or causes it to move, the player gets one penalty stroke.”
He made bogey on the hole and the next one before carding two more birdies in his round of 4-under-par 68. Simpson blamed the penalty on his shirt and putter.
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“My ball’s on the fringe, and I was seeing if I was standing in the rough or if I was going to get both feet in the fringe or whatever and the end of my putter just got stuck on my shirt and it moved the ball about a quarter of an inch,” he said after the round. “I thought it might be a penalty, but we called anyways, and if it’s on the green it’s not a penalty. So this is where I’m going to be loud and clear, like we have to get intent into the rules. We have to. Because it’s killing our game when it comes to these kind of things.”
Simpson was penalized because he moved the ball when it was off the green. Had it been on the green, there would not have been a violation.
He was asked about why he was penalized since he didn’t intentionally move the ball. “(The official) said if the ball’s off the green it doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter,” Simpson said.
“So like today … what they try to say is either it’s hard to write the rule with intent or you open it up for gray area. Well, I think it’s actually the opposite because I’m playing with Lucas ( Bjerregaard), we’re up there, why would I try to move the ball? Like there’s no advantage. Hey, and there’s cameras everywhere, too. I don’t know if that got on there, but my putter hit my clothes, it moved it a quarter inch, I’m going to move it back. So I’m just I’m hoping that somehow or another intent can get broadened, I guess.”
It’s worth noting that the penalty cost Simpson $59,375 as he finished T16 at 10 under and took home a check for $193,750.
It was a hotly debated topic on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” on Monday.
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“This is nonsense. Intent is not what we need in the game,” Golfweek columnist Eamon Lynch said. “If I’m caught speeding, I’m not going to plead intent to the cop who pulls me over that I didn’t mean to do it.
“We seem to have this disease right now, where every pro who breaks the rule, thinks the rules needs to be changed. … Suck it up, read the rulebook and just live by the rules.”