The Rules of Golf can be brutal, but this … this is still hard to fathom.
Matthew Southgate, who we remind you right away had to battle back from testicular cancer years ago, is in the Web.com Tour Finals searching for his PGA Tour card.
In fact, the Englishman appeared well on his way to earning his PGA Tour card for the 2017-18 season Sunday at the DAP Championship (the third of four Web.com Tour Finals events). Thanks to a T-5 finish in the second Finals event, the Albertsons Boise Open, Southgate entered the week ninth on the Web.com Tour Finals money list – with the top 25 at the end of the series earning Tour cards.
He appeared he would only drop a few spots from that ranking as he sat 1 over for his final round and for the tournament over a birdie putt at Canterbury Golf Club’s par-4 15th.
That is until this happened…
A leaf blowing into the picture out of nowhere and knocking his ball off course right on its way to the cup??? What are the odds of this unlucky event??
It gets a lot worse, though. (We’re serious.)
Despite his reaction, Southgate composed himself and tapped the remainder in for par. If only that were the end of it.
According to Rule 19-1, if a player’s ball is in motion after a stroke on the green and deflected or stopped by an outside agency (a leaf certainly qualifies), the stroke is nullified and the ball must be replaced and replayed from its original spot.
Thus the rules called for Southgate to get a do-over from the bad break, replaying his birdie putt from the original spot.
Well, as Southgate instead tapped in, he did not replay from the original spot. Thus, he breached Rule 19-1.
This mistake meant a two-shot penalty, and when he eventually signed for a score that presumably didn’t add on the two strokes for this infraction, he was hit with another two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard.
That’s a four-stroke penalty in all, a devastating blow for an infraction that was only possible after an impossibly bad break.
It still gets worse … Southgate would be marked for a quad there after the four shots of penalty and would finish the round bogey-triple bogey to close in 9-over 79 and plummet from T-42 to T-64.
That showing dropped him back to 20th on the Finals money list with one event to go.
In the end, this may just be a blip. Southgate does enter the Web.com Tour Championship likely just needing a decent finish to earn his PGA Tour card. But imagine if what happened Sunday does end up preventing him from earning his card?
That would be disastrous. Another reminder that the Rules of Golf have no mercy for anyone.