With 2 fellow major winners in trouble, pro extends a (funny) rules gesture
Shane Lowry’s “perspective” was needed.
And his “perspective” was received, as only he can offer it.
“You got to love Shane’s sense of humor,” Golf Channel analyst Camilo Villegas said.
Indeed. Notably, too, it also ended a 10-minute-plus rules discussion and some insight into this week’s pressure, along with overall good theater, though it was two forgettable tee shots on Friday that started things.
On Sedgefield Country Club’s 360-yard, par-4 8th, Adam Scott had hooked his tee shot left and into the penalty area, then Justin Thomas did, and that was cringey. This week, the PGA Tour is playing its last event of its regular season, the Wyndham Championship, and mishits matter just a little more — to make it to the first leg of the playoffs next week, a player must be among the top 70 of the Tour’s points standings, and Thomas, a two-time PGA Championship winner, entered the week at 79, and Scott, the 2013 Masters champ, at 81.
Golf surgery followed.
Key, of course, here was where the balls had crossed into the penalty area. Initially, the thought was that was near where they had finished — and the back-on-the-line relief would be in the left rough. But wait, Thomas and Scott thought. The balls had also hooked — meaning they may have crossed into the penalty area to the right of where they landed.
Which would put relief in the fairway.
And yes, that’s a small thing most weeks, but again, this is a last week. Strokes count. Rules official Ken Tackett was called for. A conversation was had.
“Yeah. Adam and I both hit bad tee shots there,” Thomas said afterward. “We hooked the crap out of them, so they were moving a lot. It’s so hard to figure out, you know, exactly where it crossed in a situation like that. They were both very similar shots; they were just different clubs. I think we kind of both guessed when we first got there, and then after, you know, taking the line of sight and going back and realizing it wasn’t in the fairway, we felt like we needed to look at it a little bit more, because being able to put it in the fairway and get your hands on the ball was a big deal versus being in the first cut.
“We were both very comfortable that it was behind where it was, but optically that doesn’t look great, especially with, I mean, there were three, four, five cameras right there on us. You know, I think drops get abused a decent bit and we’re not those guys, but we just wanted to — we needed to make sure that it was done correctly because that’s not — that wasn’t in the nature of it; we just wanted to make sure all was OK.”
Scott said the relief looked like it didn’t account for the hook. Tackett agreed. Thomas walked over with a yardage book and tried to mimic the ball flight. Tackett didn’t argue. But he hadn’t seen it. Meanwhile, Lowry, the third member of the group, had hit his second shot and was near the green. And he had maybe seen everything.
“I’ll get Shane’s perspective,” Tackett was overheard saying on the Golf Channel broadcast.
The 2019 Open Championship winner walked back.
He immediately told Scott that his drop needed to be more right.
“There’s no way that’s your point where you crossed,” Lowry was overheard saying on Golf Channel, referring to where Scott initially was thinking of dropping. “I mean, it’s hard to tell. … It’s hard to tell, but it’s definitely not there.”
There was more discussion.
Eventually, the drops were finalized. They accounted for the hooks. Thomas and Scott were to hit from the fairway. Thomas thanked Lowry.
Lowry turned back.
“You’re making me walk 150 yards,” he said.
He looked into a Golf Channel camera.
The delivery was good. The crowd laughed.
And from there, Thomas and Scott each bogeyed the hole, and each made the weekend cut, with Thomas shooting a second-round 65 and Scott a 71. Afterward, a reporter asked Thomas about Lowry’s role in it all.
“We both — again, it just wouldn’t have looked great if both of us were like, hey, it crossed here,” Thomas said. “We felt good about it, and the rules official came in and he can’t really say much. He wasn’t there, didn’t see it. I think the defining, or at least for us when we stood where it crossed and looked at the tee or stood where our balls were, it was a very straight line or pretty straight line and our tee shots were far from straight.
“So I think Shane was the only other person — same with our caddies; our caddies felt like it was in a different spot. But again, just optically, we didn’t really think that was the necessary thing to do. So bringing Shane in there, feel like a nonbiased, you know, someone that wasn’t involved in that drop, it was just good to get his opinion on it because he was back there on the tee with us and saw. He said it wasn’t even close to where we had it.
“It was nice of him to do that because he didn’t need to.”