Masters champ bizarrely mishits — and a newer rule is called on
Bernhard Langer was not penalized. An update to the rules of golf covered him there.
But he could not duck awkwardness.
“Well, the dreaded two-chip,” analyst Gary Koch said of Langer’s dreaded two-chip, caught on Golf Channel’s broadcast of Friday’s Senior Open second round.
Of course, you’re supposed to one-chip, and that was the two-time Masters champ’s thought after hitting his third shot on Gleneagles’ par-4 9th from just off the back of the green. Then he hit the ball again, the second time as it was starting to move forward and he was beginning his follow-through. From about 60 feet from the pin, the ball kicked out to Langer’s left, and he was left with about a 40-footer for par.
So … what happened?
“He’s trying to lob the ball over that little ridge in front and gets a little flip of the hands and the clubhead gets out there and catches the ball for a double hit,” Koch said on the broadcast.
But, as noted above, Langer was not hit with a penalty, thanks to a rules change in 2019. Rule 10.1a now states: “If the player’s club accidentally hits the ball more than once, there has been only one stroke and there is no penalty;” previously Langer would have been penalized a stroke.
And why was the change made? On their website, the USGA wrote: “Where a double hit occurs as part of a single stroke and was not the intention of the player, it was felt unfair and unnecessary for the player to be penalized. Just as there is no penalty if a player’s ball accidentally deflects off his or her body, equipment or caddie, there is no need for a penalty when a player accidentally strikes his or her own ball in making a stroke.”
On the broadcast, Koch had another thought.
“The good news is, under the rules change back a couple of years ago, no longer a penalty,” he said. “And I could see why because I’ve never seen a double hit that ended up in a better position, that’s for sure.”
From there, Langer bogeyed, but shot three-under over his final nine holes for a two-under 68 overall, and he’s three shots back of leader Darren Clarke.
He had recovered well, though these things can scar.
“What that does — we’re all golfers here and professional — it absolutely knocks the stuffing out of you emotionally when you do something like that,” said Paul McGinley, who joined the broadcast after his second round.