May
2
2011
The Wind Factor Hurt Webb
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Webb rules

As you’ve probably heard by now, Webb Simpson called a rules infraction on himself on the 15th hole, costing him a stroke and eventually a loss in a playoff to Bubba Watson. Webb was leading by a shot when he stepped up to a one-foot putt and the ball moved after he had already addressed the ball and grounded his putter. Under the Rules of Golf, he incurred a one-shot penalty and replaced the ball to the original position (which was a fraction of an inch in this case). Webb wasn’t happy with the rule and had some sharp comments — you could definitely see his frustration in his Golf Channel interview.

“It stinks that the tournament might have been decided by a rule that’s borderline a good rule,” he told GC’s Todd Lewis. “I’m a little disappointed, but I’ll learn from it and hopefully have another chance next week.”

In Webb’s post-round press conference, he opened by congratulating Bubba before bringing up the incident.

“A little unfortunate what happened on 15,” said Webb, who remains winless on the PGA Tour. “I better limit my comments on that rule, because I think it’s such a bad rule.

“The problem with the rule is you get greens like this that they get pretty bare, almost like this tabletop, wind’s blowing, balls can wiggle and move so easily. My ball’s five inches from the hole. I go up to tap it in. It’s not like I rushed up there, I took my time. Put the putter down and took it back, and the ball moved about a quarter or half an inch.

“The unfortunate thing and the reason I don’t think it’s a good rule is that golf is supposedly the last gentlemen’s game. There is so much on the player to call the penalty on themselves. When wind or other natural things affect the golf ball, the player shouldn’t be penalized.”

In PGA Tour Confidential, one colleague suggested it was karma for using the belly putter. I’m on the fence with the rule. I think it sucks when things like wind and crispy greens play a factor and he didn’t cause or intend the ball to move, though it’s kind of one of those parts of the game you have to deal with. It’s frustrating to call yourself on that, but it’s almost second nature for any competitive golfer to do so (been there, done that — definitely a momentum killer, so props to Webb for keeping it together the final few holes). It’s even more frustrating for something so silly to likely decide the outcome of a tournament.

What do you think? Tough luck or bad rule?

A few of Geoff Shackelford’s astute readers questioned Webb’s actions on a ruling on the first playoff hole where he took a drop from a greenside sprinkler. Apparently, they think when Webb placed the ball (after the first two drops rolled down the slope), his first “place” came to rest, but he picked it up and tried again. Upon review of the video, I think it’s much ado about nothing. Webb’s ball moved from its original spot in the “place” in question. So, he did the right thing and re-placed the ball until it stayed put.



(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)