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Jordan Spieth sounds off on rare ruling that penalized Rickie Fowler

February 7, 2019

Jordan Spieth had a chance to voice his opinion on the rare ruling that cost Rickie Fowler a penalty stroke in the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Sunday, and Spieth, per usual, had plenty to say.

Fowler hit his third shot into the water on the par-4 11th hole at TPC Scottsdale, and his drop wouldn’t stay up on the slope. Due to the rainy conditions it kept rolling back into the water. Finally he placed the ball, but when he was assessing his shot by the green his ball rolled back into the water again. It cost him a penalty stroke, yet he still won by two.

Spieth, during his press conference prior to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Wednesday, was asked if that’s something he thinks should be a penalty.

“Certainly after a drop [it shouldn’t be a penalty],” Spieth said. “But at the same time, I’ve seen that same rule work to somebody’s advantage where the ball sits on a slope on the green and they’re walking up to the green and by the time they get there, their ball as has rolled down the slope closer to the hole. But it was at rest for a certain amount of time, you get to play it from wherever it goes and it just served as an advantage. So I don’t see it as a problem in the rule, unless it’s after a drop.

“I was watching it on the couch. I was like, wow, that’s another penalty stroke, just knowing the rule. And that’s frustrating because he drops it twice and then places it and you can’t like create a lie. You can’t, so he’s doing everything he should be doing, and then all of a sudden it rolls in the water. And if it happens off of a shot, then that’s where the ball was supposed to go. Well, when it happens off of a drop, the idea is to get the ball in play in a location there, and I don’t think anybody wants that to be a penalty. And it certainly shouldn’t be after you’re taking a drop or a penalty stroke. But the rule itself can work to your advantage or disadvantage.”

Fowler’s water ball and additional penalty stroke on 11 led to a triple bogey, and he followed it up with another bogey on 12. But he birdied two of the final four holes to notch his fifth career PGA Tour victory.

“You get tested all the time and there’s plenty of times where you end up in difficult situations and you’re going to have bad breaks and make a bad score and move the wrong way,” Fowler said afterwards. “But like I said earlier, it wasn’t fun, I don’t want to have to win like that again.”