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Henrik Stenson flubs new rule as European Tour pros navigate changes for first time

January 16, 2019

The PGA Tour got its first taste of the new rules over the last two week’s in Hawaii, and now it’s the European Tour’s turn. The first Euro event of the year kicked off Wednesday and saw several pros navigating the rule changes. Some players had more trouble than others, like Henrik Stenson, who was caught on camera nearly messing up the new drop rule.

During the first round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, Stenson ran into a situation that required a drop. With his feet on a stone wall guarding a pond, Stenson extended his arm out to shoulder height and went to drop his ball. But just before he did, Henrik and his caddie realized the mistake he had made.

Among the many alterations to the Rules of Golf enacted this year is a change to the drop rule. Under the new rule, players are supposed to make drops from knee height. Even if an incorrect drop is made, there is no penalty if you re-do the drop following the proper procedure before making your shot.

Stenson did just that, this time bending over to the correct height before letting his ball go. The European Tour tweeted a series of photos documenting the moment.

Stenson isn’t the only high-profile pro to run into trouble with the drop rule. Jordan Spieth almost made the same mistake last week but was saved by a last-second intervention by PGA Tour rules official Slugger White.

Spieth’s friend and fellow Tour star Bryson DeChambeau called the new rule “a bit absurd” at the Tournament of Champions.

DeChambeau has been making noise for months about his experiments with another of the rule changes: putting with the pin in. The flagstick stayed in for the first time on the European Tour on Wednesday as well. Here’s a video a Haotong Li sinking a nice mid-range birdie with the pin still in during round 1.

Stenson, who topped Phil Mickelson to win the 2016 Open Championship, finished the day with an even-par 72. He will begin the second round 10 shots behind leader Shane Lowry.