U.S. Open contender Harris English loses ball in rough on 1st hole, makes costly double bogey

Harris English and his caddie pictured on Saturday at the 2020 U.S. Open.

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Harris English stood on the 1st tee at Winged Foot’s West Course on Sunday afternoon with a chance to win the 2020 U.S. Open, the first major of his career. By the time he arrived at the 1st tee for the second time minutes later, he could only shake his head in disgust.

Because one of the worst scenarios imaginable happened to English’s first drive of the final round: it was lost in the rough.

English piped his drive on the difficult par-4 and lost it to the left. His ball deflected off a tree and fell into the notoriously thick rough at Winged Foot. It wasn’t the shot he wanted to hit on the opening hole, but it wasn’t a tournament-killer, either. Or so he thought.

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Lost ball in U.S. Open rough? Here’s how to proceed under the rules
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Volunteer spotters nearby couldn’t find his ball. Once English and his caddie arrived, they furiously looked for it in the several-inches long grass. Even playing partner Xander Schauffele, as well as some fellow competitors playing an adjacent hole helped in the search, but to no avail.

Once the three minutes players are permitted to search for a lost ball was up, a rules official broke the news to English, and he headed back to the tee to hit his second drive.

Balls lost in the rough this week are treated similarly to tee shots hit out-of-bounds. The player takes a stroke penalty, and then must return to the tee to hit his third shot.

English’s second drive found the left rough again, near where his first ball disappeared. Fortunately, they found this one. He then hacked out from the rough, sending his ball into a greenside bunker.

Fortunately, he was able to get up-and-down from there. Unfortunately, it all added up to a double-bogey 6, dropping him to two over for the tournament and seven shots behind leader Wolff, who had yet to tee off.

But anything can happen over the final 17 holes, so despite the devastating start, English still has a chance if he can get it going soon. You can watch a USGA staffer explaining the rule in question below:

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Kevin Cunningham

Kevin Cunningham

Golf.com Editor

As managing producer for GOLF.com, Cunningham edits, writes and publishes stories on GOLF.com, and manages the brand’s e-newsletters, which reach more than 1.4 million subscribers each month. A former two-time intern, he also helps keep GOLF.com humming outside the news-breaking stories and service content provided by our reporters and writers, and works with the tech team in the development of new products and innovative ways to deliver an engaging site to our audience.