‘Insane’ golf-ball mix-up nearly DQ’s Korn Ferry tournament leader

golf ball mix up

The one-ball rule was front and center at this week's Korn Ferry Tour event.

PGA Tour

It’s not often a tour player has to worry about running out of golf balls, but the second-round co-leader of this week’s Korn Ferry Tour event found himself in just such a predicament.

It all started Thursday, after an opening-round 60 had propelled Ryan McCormick into the lead at the NV5 Invitational, in Glenview, Ill. That evening, McCormick kept his putting stroke sharp with a practice session in his hotel room. When he had finished, he slipped the ball he had been using — a 2021-22 model Titleist ProV1 — into his golf bag.

That’s when things got complicated. In tournaments, McCormick plays a 2023 model ProV1, but the next day he unintentionally began his second round at the Glen Club with the same older model ball with which he had been practicing — and he had only one.

Golf ball ProV1 titleist
There are only subtle differences in the stamps among different models of Titleist ProV1s. Ryan Barath

The PGA Tour and all PGA Tour-sanctioned events use the model local rule G-4, which is also known as the “one-ball rule.” This means that whatever ball model you start the round with, you must use that same model for the entire round. In other words, if McCormick lost his sole 2021-22 ball during play with no ability to replace it, he would be disqualified.

“Literally if I lose this ball, my tournament is over,” McCormick said as he recounted his dilemma after the second round. “I was like, [this is] insane.”

McCormick, who began his round on the 10th hole, said he didn’t realize the err of his ways until he was on the 11th green. The first scare came on the next hole when McCormick hit a stray shot into the fescue. It looked to be a goner, but after a desperate search, the ball turned up. On the 13th hole, McCormick’s caddie raked the bottom of a pond with the long-shot hope of finding a couple of 2021-22 model ProV1s. No luck.

By this point, McCormick had alerted a rules official to his quandary. As word spread of what had happened, a couple of players along with a tournament administration manager came to McCormick’s rescue with a couple of older-model ball ProV1s, so McCormick was able to finish his round without fear of disqualification.

“It’s the most rattled I’ve ever been in my career,” McCormick said later. “I can’t believe I did that.”

Even with the stress of a potential DQ, McCormick finished his second round with a tidy two-under 69, and he managed not to lose a ball over 18 holes.

Midway through his third-round Saturday, McCormick was at 16 under for the tournament and one off the lead.

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Ryan Barath

Golf.com Editor

Ryan Barath is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s senior editor for equipment. He has an extensive club-fitting and -building background with more than 20 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. Before joining the staff, he was the lead content strategist for Tour Experience Golf, in Toronto, Canada.

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