Ryder Cup drama is heating up on Day 2. Not long after Justin Thomas gestured he was annoyed that he wasn’t conceded a putt in his match, Brooks Koepka and his group had to delay their match while waiting for a detailed ruling to unfold near a fairway bunker.
Koepka and Daniel Berger were 1 down to Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm after 14 holes, and on the 15th Berger missed the fairway right and his ball came to rest in some long fescue behind a bunker. Koepka got up to the ball and surveyed the situation, then brought in a rules official to ask for free relief. Koepka argued that there was a drain in front of the ball that he said would interfere with his swing.
“First of all, I don’t think it’s going to interfere with the area of your intended swing,” said David Price, the rules official, in a conversation picked up on the NBC broadcast.
“You don’t think my club might hit right there?” Koepka said, pointing downward. “Have you ever seen me hit a ball?” (At this point, in a brief moment of comedy, Garcia spit out his water because he thought the line was so funny, and Koepka flashed a smile his way.)
“There was a root that far down a couple of weeks ago,” Koepka continued, referring to his wrist injury at the Tour Championship at East Lake. “If you are going to say no, I’ll call for a second (opinion).”
“I mean, that’s the most unnatural thing I have ever seen,” Berger added.
“Just call one of your buddies,” Kopeka said.
As Price called in for a second opinion, Mark Wilson, a PGA rules official, chimed in on the broadcast. He explained that bunkers at Whistling Straits have cut-out areas that lead to drains, and on their rules sheet those are considered obstructions. However, while Price admitted it was an obstruction, Wilson explained that it’s a judgment call. And, in Price’s opinion, the drainage would not interfere with Koepka’s swing.
“I don’t physically see how you can make a swing and not at some point have this impact or this impact your club,” Berger said, pointing to the drainage.
A European Tour rules official then came in for a second opinion and agreed with the first ruling.
“I still can’t see you reaching that,” he told Koepka. “There is no way.”
“Did you not see a couple of weeks ago?” Koepka said, again referring to his injury at East Lake.
“I see it all the time,” he said. “Sorry, Brooks.”
Koepka made one final comment as the masses cleared and he prepared for his shot.
“If I break my wrist, this is on f—— both of you,” he said, pointing at the two referees.
Nearly 10 minutes after the controversy started, Koepka swung and hit the ball cleanly and found the green. From there his team two-putted to halve the hole.
Garcia and Rahm then went eagle-par on 16 and 17 to defeat Koepka and Berger 3 and 1.
“I thought they played really well,” Koepka said. “They got off to a bad start but probably 7 through 13 probably killed us. They chip in on 9. We three-putt 7. Just one of those things; they played really well.”
Asked after the match if he could speak on the ruling, Koepka said, “Yeah, we didn’t get it.”