Pro wins tournament. But rules video review takes victory away.
Chris Hanson was good with his drop. Dan Brown, his opponent in a sudden-death playoff, and an on-course announcer were good, too.
But there were “live viewing concerns.”
In a bizarre sequence on the 2020 Pro Tour that brought to mind an incident with Lexi Thompson in 2017, Hanson won a recently completed event at Rockliffe Hall Golf Course in England, then he didn’t. As first reported by Golf Monthly, tour officials talked with a rules official after reviewing their live online broadcast, determined that Hanson did not drop his ball properly, and the victory was awarded to Brown.
“On reviewing the playoff footage after some LIVE viewing concerns regarding Chris Hanson’s drop on the final playoff hole,” the Tour wrote in a statement released on its Twitter account. “And after speaking with a PGA Official it has come to our attention that the ball was dropped in the wrong place. Resulting in Chris being disqualified from the playoff.”
The incident began after Hanson’s tee shot on the 1st hole came to rest just to the left of a fence. From there, Hanson, who was once as high as 288th in the world rankings, talked with his caddie, Brown and the on-course announcer over where he should drop from the immovable obstruction, and Hanson eventually did so to the right of the fence.
“To be fair, you’d be better off down here,” Brown was overheard saying on the live broadcast, pointing at where Hanson would eventually drop.
“Is that the nearest point?” Hanson asked.
“Yeah, I think so,” Brown said.
Hanson then hit on, rolled in a long birdie putt to end the playoff, and he was the winner. Until the video review. Hanson was allowed relief under rule 16.1, but he had not dropped at the nearest point of complete relief, which should have been to the left of the fence. (The USGA’s website offers a diagram of where to drop in such a situation here.)
Of course, video review is nothing new in golf, though golf’s governing bodies clarified how it should be used after Thompson was penalized four strokes while leading during the final round of the 2017 ANA Inspiration after a viewer emailed tournament officials saying that Thompson had misplaced her ball on the green during the third round.
Shortly after, Decision 34-3/10 was released. A USGA statement said it “implements two standards for Rules committees to limit the use of video: 1) when video reveals evidence that could not reasonably be seen with the “naked eye,” and 2) when players use their “reasonable judgment” to determine a specific location when applying the Rules.”
But 2020 Pro Tour officials believed that this did not apply to Hanson’s drop, though no additional statement was given. And Brown was declared the winner.
“Dan Brown now stands as the Golf Travel People Masters Champion and wins a cheque for £5,000,” the Tour wrote in its statement on Twitter. “Congratulations to Dan Brown once again and thanks to the Golf Travel People for their continued support.”