WATCH: Spieth involved in rules controversy; results in loss of hole at Presidents Cup

September 30, 2017

The Presidents Cup was already a rout in favor of the American team, but now a rules controversy has struck on Day 3 at Liberty National Golf Club—and it involves golf’s Golden Child.

Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed lost the 12th hole of their afternoon four-ball match against Jason Day and Louis Oosthuizen due to Spieth influencing the movement of Oosthuizen’s second shot.

Playing the drivable, 293-yard par-4 12th hole, Oosthuizen played his second shot from just off the green. He putted his ball onto the green and it ran well past the hole, and Spieth stopped it with his putter, picked it up and threw it to Oosthuizen. Oosthuizen’s partner, Day, was already in for birdie, so Oosthuizen’s birdie putt no longer mattered.

Or so Spieth thought.

According to Rule 1-2 of the Rules of Golf, “a player must not (i) take an action with the intent to influence the movement of a ball in play or (ii) alter physical conditions with the intent of affecting the playing of a hole.” The penalty for the breach of this rule in match play is a loss of the hole.

So even though Oosthuizen’s come-backer wouldn’t have mattered, Spieth still broke the rules since the ball hadn’t come to a stop. Rules official Andy McFee came onto the green to explain what had happened.

Spieth, incredulous, made his plea as boos from the gallery echoed in the background.

“It’s conceded,” he said. “The next one is conceded?”

McFee was soon surrounded by players, caddies and captains as they tried to piece together what happened and what the penalty should be.

“I only stopped it because our fans were screaming at it, to like, keep going; just to shut everybody up,” Spieth said. “And it didn’t matter. It was already won.”

Spieth and Reed both had looks at birdie, but it didn’t matter. The Internationals were awarded the hole and took a 1-up lead in the match. Spieth and Reed eventually won 2 and 1.