Keegan Bradley, in the moment, said it angered him. Two days later, he sounded more frustrated.
Hit with a two-stroke penalty after confusion over a rule during Saturday’s second round at the Players Championship, Bradley lashed out at officials on Monday as the infraction became magnified during the final round. After his 12th hole at TPC Sawgrass, Bradley was tied for the lead, before finishing four back.
“Well, first off, I think the USGA needs to smarten up and change that rule,” Bradley said afterward. “It’s so silly. They try to make the rules easier, and they never get it right.”
At issue was how Bradley proceeded after he put his mark down on the 16th green, when wind moved his ball. Bradley believed he was to play from where his mark was. But, because he hadn’t picked up his ball before it was blown, he should have played from the new spot, according to Rule 13.1d (2).
On the 2nd hole (Bradley started on the back nine), rules official Gary Young told Bradley of the infraction, and his par 5 became a double-bogey 7.
“I put the coin down, and as I’m going to grab it, a huge gust of wind, and it went,” Bradley said when a reporter asked for clarification on Monday. “The rule actually states you have to pick the ball up, so the coin means nothing for whatever reason that no one — I’d like to hear the USGA’s explanation for that. They seem to like to screw everything up.
“But I’ll know that going forward, and I know a lot of the guys I spoke to inside, that’ll help them hopefully.”
After he was tied for the lead after 12 on Monday, Bradley never pulled ahead outright. He bogeyed 17 and double-bogeyed 18 to finish 5th.
“I tried to tell myself on Friday — they told me on the 2nd hole, which was my 11th and blowing 30 miles an hour,” Bradley said. “I was three under at the time or two, I forget, and it got me so pissed off that it refocused me. And I tried to tell myself that maybe — I think I played the rest of the holes one under. Maybe I don’t play those holes one under because it was so difficult, the conditions. I tried to tell myself that maybe it’s going to make me shoot a lower score in the end. Who knows. Who knows. Can’t tell at this point.
“It was a fluke thing. I was saying a million things had to happen all at once for this to happen. It was perfect timing, it was the gust — if I take one second longer or one second shorter, this never happens. I’ve spoken to a bunch of the guys. Not one player knows this rule. We all thought common sense says you put your coin down, that’s where your ball is. I didn’t want to break the rules by moving my coin. I was trying to do the right thing.
“This day and age, if you do something like that, it’s going to be seen. Thank God they did, or I could have been DQed.”