Relief after losing his ball over a fence. Relief after hitting his ball just outside of a bunker.
Call Bryson DeChambeau what you will, but say this, too:
He’s read the rule book.
Both drops came on the second half of the back nine on Friday at the Tour Championship. On the 537-yard, par-4 14th at East Lake Golf Club, DeChambeau hit his tee shot right, into trees and over a green fence marked as a temporary immovable obstruction (TIO). The ball was not found, but DeChambeau, after a discussion with an official, was able to take relief left of the fence thanks to Model Local Rule F-23 of the Rules of Golf, which states: “If the player’s ball has not been found but is known or virtually certain to have come to rest in a TIO: The player may take relief under this Local Rule by using the estimated point where the ball last crossed the edge of the TIO on the course as the spot of the ball for purposes of finding the nearest point of complete relief.”
From there, DeChambeau dropped, punched his ball to the front of the green and three-putted for a bogey five.
“When he hit that initial drive there, it was signaled by the volunteers that it was out of bounds, but out of bounds is actually way, way right of this fairway,” analyst Jim “Bones” Mackay said on the Golf Channel broadcast. “There’s a TIO fence over here. They were not able to find Bryson’s ball, but official John Mutch just told Bryson your ball is lost in the TIO, you’ll get free relief here away from this fence, and you’ll be playing your second shot here shortly.”
Said analyst Justin Leonard: “This is similar if there was a grandstand out there to the right of the 14th fairway. You don’t necessarily have to find it. You just have to have very reasonable evidence that it is in there.”
Three holes later, on the 423-yard, par-4 17th, DeChambeau hit his tee shot left and into trees, then punched out to just right of a greenside bunker and onto what was ruled a sod seam. He’d get relief here, too. According to Model Local Rule F-7, a drop may be taken if “a ball lies in one of the cut turf seams.”
Only this time after his drop, DeChambeau pitched on, his ball landed about 10 feet short of the hole, and it rolled in for a birdie 3. He’d finish the round with a three-under 67 and is at 11-under overall, six shots back of leader Patrick Cantlay.
“So up at the green, DeChambeau was given relief and ends up chipping it in,” analyst Gary Koch said on the broadcast. “Got to drop it and ended up with a much better lie than he had. Was it sod seam or something?”
“Exactly right,” Mackay said. “I thought initially it was a sprinkler, but there was a sod seam in the area, which I think they had to go with.”