‘That was tough news’: Rules gaffe stuns major champion at Players

Keegan Bradley

Keegan Bradley on Saturday was hit with a two-stroke penalty at the Players Championship.

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The coin was not enough. 

In a rarely called rules violation, Keegan Bradley was stung with a two-shot penalty on Saturday during his second round at the Players Championship after he marked his ball on the 16th green at TPC Sawgrass, the ball moved and Bradley played it from where he had marked it, rather than where the ball moved to. Bradley’s par five was changed to a double-bogey seven, and he finished with a one-under 71. 

Afterward, Bradley said he and his playing partners, Andrew Putnam and Cameron Young, all believed they were in the right at the moment. 

“Well, apparently the rule is — I thought as long as everyone in my group … and I guarantee most of the entire field thought the USGA changed the rule to simplify it — put your coin down, that’s where your ball is,” said Bradley, the 2011 PGA Championship winner. “So put my coin down, the ball moved, a huge gust of wind came up. 

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“I looked at the guys in my group, and we all said, yep, the coin was down first, all good. Didn’t think about it again until Gary [rules official Gary Young] came up and spoke to me on 2, and proud of the way I handled that because that was tough news, especially with some tough holes in front of me.”

In play was rule 13.1d (2), which states: “If natural forces cause a player’s ball on the putting green to move, where the player must play from next depends on whether the ball had already been lifted and replaced on its original spot.” If the ball was not already lifted and replaced, “the ball must be played from its new spot.” (For conversation sake, if the ball had been already lifted and replaced, “the ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated), even though it was moved by natural forces and not by the player, the opponent or an outside influence.”)

“Unfortunately when Keegan was on the putting green at No. 16 he went to mark his golf ball and And his ball was moved by natural forces,” rules official Mark Dusbabek said further on the NBC broadcast. “You’re supposed to play it from its new position. He had not lifted the ball. You have to mark it and lift the ball, take it out of play and put it back. But he had went and picked up his ball after he had marked it but had not lifted his ball prior to doing that, so he was supposed to play it from its new position.”

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.