Matsuyama questioned (and exonerated) over potential rules violation

December 1, 2017

Did Hideki improve his lie… or didn’t he?

That was the question.

In the second round of the Hero World Challenge, Hideki Matsuyama was at the center of a rules quandary after he chunked a chip shot on the 18th hole. As the ball rolled back toward his feet, Matsuyama tamped down the divot he had created with the shot, which could have been interpreted as an attempt to improve his lie for the ensuing shot.

The episode generated some chatter on social media.

Under Rule 13-2, a player must not improve or allow to be improved “the position or lie of his ball…or the area of his intended stance or swing…by pressing a club on the ground.” However, officials deemed that Matsuyama did not violate the rule, because he did not intend to improve his lie. Tour rules official Mark Russell rendered the verdict after discussing the matter with Matsuyama following the round.

Matsuyama bogeyed the 18th, the lone blemish in an otherwise a sparkling round. He made seven birdies on his way to a 66 and trails leader Charley Hoffman by five shots.