Justin Rose was penalised two-shots, then he was handed them back

When is a two-stroke penalty, not a two-stroke penalty?

A strange set of circumstances at The PLAYERS Championship saw Justin Rose penalised two strokes at the end of his third round, only to have them handed them back by the time he took to the tee for his final round on Sunday.

Rose set up for a chip shot at the end of his third round on the 18th hole at Sawgrass but stepped away from the ball after he wondered if he had seen his ball move. Remember that the ball can oscillate in place but not move its position.

After he and playing partner Sergio Garcia watched replays on the big TV screen near the 18th green, they decided the ball had not moved. Rose made par but was slapped with a two-stroke penalty after rules officials deemed the ball had indeed moved and he did not replace it – according to Rule 18-2b.

That wasn’t the end of it though.

Overnight, rules officials met to discuss the situation further and the decision was overturned thanks largely to a rule that was put in place after a similar incident involving Tiger Woods last year.

Under rule 18-4, officials can rescind the penalty if the ball movement is not “reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time”. In short, if you need super slo-mo or HDTV to see it, then it hasn’t moved.

The PGA Tour gave an official statement on the incident with Rose.

“Overnight, given the fact that Decision 18-4 had been implemented in January of 2014, yet had not been utilized in PGA TOUR competition, the Rules Committee reopened the incident and focused on how much the use of sophisticated technology played a part in making the original ruling. After that review, it was determined that the only way to confirm whether and how much the ball had in fact changed position, was to utilize sophisticated technology.”

There is no chance of us weekend hackers having to revert to super slo-mo replays to determine if our golf ball has moved or not, but it’s nice to know the rules all the same. Rose finished the tournament in a tie for fourth place, three strokes behind winner Martin Kaymer.

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