Ball movement rule to come under review

Webb Simpson putts on the 17th green during the final round of the Zurich Classic.

Webb Simpson putts on the 17th green during the final round of the Zurich Classic.

Webb Simpson’s timing was just a bit off last weekend.

Not with his golf swing; rather, the rulebook.

Simpson, leading by one shot in Sunday’s final round of the Zurich Classic in New Orleans, addressed his ball for an apparent tap-in par on the 15th hole when the ball moved slightly. Simpson was penalized one stroke under Rule 18-2b, “Ball at Rest Moved,” because he addressed the ball before it moved.

According to Thomas O’Toole, vice president and chairman of the U.S. Golf Association’s Championship Committee, Rule 18-2b has been under consideration to be changed in conjunction with the R&A and likely will be modified in the rules cycle for 2012.

The change would allow for a ball that moved to be replaced without penalty if the movement were found to be from an outside influence (i.e., gravity or wind) not caused by the player.

O’Toole emphasized that the rule was under scrutiny before Simpson’s penalty.

Simpson eventually lost in a playoff to Bubba Watson.

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