With darkness quickly closing in at CordeValle, Bryce Molder drained a seven-footer for birdie on No. 17 to beat Briny Baird on the sixth playoff hole. (Finally. Cripes, it was like, does either of you want to win this tournament?) Before Baird putted, Molder fixed a ballmark in his own line and then right before Molder putted, he tapped down the green six or seven times in the same area in front of the cup.
I missed it initially, but Geoff Shackelford brought it to my attention on Twitter: “I’m sorry, but did Bryce Molder just pat down the green in front of the cup before making that putt? #illegallastIchecked”
So I rewinded the coverage and watched the taps-in-question a few times. I also noticed Molder fixed a ballmark several minutes earlier. (Geoff and I are fully aware Molder is allowed to fix a ballmark.) We can come to the conclusion that he was just tapping down the ballmark he fixed earlier, but the amount of acreage he covered seemed a tad suspicious.
Now this might be a moot point since a winner has already been announced, so the standings are final and even if Molder acted against the spirit of the game, he’s still the winner of the Frys.com Open. Either way, it’s surely a good topic for debate.
I haven’t played competitive golf in nearly eight years, but I don’t think the etiquette has changed much since then. If I were to fix a ballmark, I’d point it out to my competitor(s) first, especially if it’s not my ballmark and it’s in my line. And if I were to tap down the area that was in my line several minutes after fixing it, I would also inform my competitor(s). That’s like second nature and common courtesy. Plus, you’d rather be safe than sorry (you’d be surprised what sticklers junior golfers are for rules and try to play mind games with you by accusing you of a violation).
Basically, what Molder did looked a tad sketchy. Whether or not he acted against the spirit of the rules is up for debate, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Calling all rules nerds: What say you?
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)