‘Look out!’: Farmers Insurance leader drops club, narrowly avoids penalty
There are bad drops, and then there are bad drops.
Farmers Insurance Open leader Sam Ryder narrowly avoided the latter on Sunday afternoon at Torrey Pines.
The situation arose on the 15th hole, when Ryder approached his tee shot in the right-side rough while clinging to a one-stroke lead.
As Ryder drew closer to the ball, viewers at home could sense his nerves. The 33-year-old was closing in on what would have been his first-ever PGA Tour victory at an iconic U.S. Open venue. He was trying to fend off a leaderboard that featured names like Rahm and Morikawa, Homa and Matsuyama. His mom nervously paced nearby, wearing all of the agony of a final-round lead at one of the Tour’s harshest tests.
Ryder and his caddie, Brent Everson, chatted quickly as they surveyed the ball in the rough. It was buried. Ryder would need to take a mighty lash just to ensure the ball would return to the fairway. From there, it was anyone’s guess.
After a few minutes of chatter, both men settled on a club. Ryder reached into the bag, pulled out an iron and … thud. It tumbled out of his hands and followed the pull of gravity directly toward Earth. As the club fell, it tracked right in the direction of Ryder’s ball, falling just inches away from his speck of white in the grass.
On the CBS broadcast, Trevor Immelman and Jim Nantz were perturbed.
“Oh look out!” Immelman cried as the network showed the replay.
“That was before,” Nantz echoed. “…And that came close to making contact with the ball.”
For Ryder, the impact of his club grazing his ball could have been calamitous. Per rule 9.4B of the rules of golf, any contact with the ball within the field of play — accidental or not — when a stroke has not been made results in a one-stroke penalty. Had Ryder made contact with the ball, he would have been assessed a one-stroke penalty and played the ball from the original spot.
Fortunately, Ryder’s club fell safely into the turf, unaffected by any white-dimpled objects within its orbit. Unfortunately, the good break for Ryder didn’t result in his first-career PGA Tour victory. He would go on to make bogey on the 15th, and would fall eventually to Max Homa, who left the Farmers Insurance Open the champion on Sunday.