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Justin Thomas’s hole-hanging putt took 10-plus seconds to drop. Was that legal?

August 13, 2017

Justin Thomas sank one of the most memorable putts of the 2017 PGA Championship on Sunday, but as soon as it dropped whispers began to spread on Twitter.

Thomas’s birdie try at the par-5 10th stopped on the edge of the cup. He then walked away from the ball momentarily, stunned that it hadn’t dropped. As he began walking toward the ball, it fell into the hole for a birdie. It is estimated that more than 10 seconds passed from when the ball first came to rest to when it hit the bottom of the cup. So did Justin Thomas wait too long and, therefore, break the rules?

Alas, he did not. Rule 16-2 in the Rules of Golf covers this exact scenario:

“When any part of the ball overhangs the lip of the hole, the player is allowed enough time to reach the hole without unreasonable delay and an additional ten seconds to determine whether the ball is at rest.”

Given Thomas hadn’t even addressed the ball before it fell into the hole, he was well within the rules — and in excellent position to win his first major title.