‘Really annoyed me’: Drawn-out ruling irritates PGA Championship contender

Robert MacIntyre

Robert MacIntyre on Friday to the right of the 7th hole at Valhalla Golf Club.

Sky Sports

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Robert MacIntyre was up against compound fencing. He was in the mud. He was on some stairs. He was on a platform.

MacIntyre was also frustrated.

“It’s just really annoyed me,” he said Friday night at the PGA Championship. 

The process, he said, lasted 25 minutes on Valhalla Golf Club’s 7th hole, zapped his momentum and had him questioning officials. MacIntyre parred the par-5, but he bogeyed the next two holes — his final two of the day after starting on the back nine — and he started Saturday’s third round at seven under, five back of leader Xander Schauffele

The sequence started after MacIntyre went right with his second shot on 7 at about 7:50 p.m. local time, and it settled next to compound fencing, which allowed him to get temporary immovable obstruction (TIO) relief. But the spot of that relief was in some question. Eventually, MacIntyre and an official settled to the right of what appeared to be a concession tent. 

But there was standing water there, so further relief was allowed. But where was the question again. A second official was needed. 

Said the second official, via the Sky Sports broadcast: “I’m just coming into this. I just want to know what are we doing?” 

Said MacIntyre: “So we were over there [pointed to the left]. We were miles over there. … This is the relief. … Where I’m going to drop it — so if I don’t drop this perfectly — I’m trying to work out where my relief from casual …”

First, MacIntyre and the two officials examined a drop near the steps of the tent. Didn’t work. They walked up the steps. MacIntyre dropped there. He hit from the wooden platform, about 75 yards from the hole, and he eventually made his par.   

It all also irritated him. After the 7th, with darkness settling in, MacIntyre missed the green with his tee shot on the par-3 8th and again with his second shot on the par-4 9th, leading to bogeys. 

“Took them 25 minutes to get a ruling,” MacIntyre said afterward, “and I’ve come out from the ruling and it’s pitch black. It’s just really annoyed me. To finish the way I finished is really not good when I’m right in the golf tournament. Now, I’m kind of behind the 8-ball trying to fight back.”

A reporter asked him to describe the ruling.

“I was just trying to find out where my nearest point of relief if I dropped it,” MacIntyre said, “and it was casual water and I just needed to know where my nearest point of relief was, and the guy didn’t know so we had to get a second guy. It just took longer than it needed to, and I just lost all momentum. Hadn’t swung a golf club in 25 minutes. Probably two bad swings, the worst shot I’ve hit all week on the par-3 8th. 

“I suppose we just get on with it.”

On Sky Sports, analyst Laura Davies called the episode “unusual.”

“The PGA are so good at working out where players could hit a ball,” she said. “I’m surprised there wasn’t a drop zone. It would’ve been a great drop zone. But you do get them every so often in major championships because the grandstands and the infrastructure is so big. 

“So Bob’s done nothing wrong there.”  

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.