LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – It is called “moving day,” this Saturday business in professional golf. But that took on a most unfortunate twist for Jason Dufner, who called a penalty on himself when his ball moved just before he putted it at the seventh hole.
“I thought they changed the rule, and it’s kind of a vague rule,” Dufner said, trying to shake off the mishap that he felt soiled an otherwise decent day, a round of 73. “I played solid but got a couple bad breaks.”
Having started the day in a tie for fifth, 4 under and six back, Dufner bogeyed the par-4 sixth and was looking to get a stroke back at the next hole, a par 5. He was on the fringe in three shots, opting to putt from 40 feet and he admittedly had grounded his club when the ball moved, “maybe a quarter of an inch.”
Dufner called it, and officials confirmed that it was a penalty. He doesn’t deny that it unruffled him a bit, because after rolling his fifth shot, “I had a 5-footer, and I missed that,” he said.
“It was tough to give up three shots at six and seven,” Dufner said, but he was going to shrug off a round that was completed with a bogey at the par-3 12th and a birdie at the par-4 14th as he finished at 1 under, now T-14 and 10 behind. Instead, Dufner was going to focus on the positives: “I hit a good amount of fairways and greens.”
Dufner confirmed that he had to make a call to the bullpen at the start of the round, because his longtime caddie, Kevin Baile, became sick. Fortunately, with Sergio Garcia having missed the cut, veteran caddie Gary Matthews was available, and he did the third-round duties for Dufner.