Knowing rule on divot leads to pair of birdies

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U.S. Open

Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort (No. 2)

6/12/2014 - 6/15/2014

Pos Name Thru Today Overall
1 Martin Kaymer $1,620,000 600 -9
2 Erik Compton $789,330 270 -1
2 Rickie Fowler $789,330 270 -1
4 Henrik Stenson $326,310 115 +1
4 Jason Day $326,310 115 +1
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With a few artistic liberties, it could be said that professional John Buffalo of Las Vegas looks something like a buffalo.

He appears to be strong and determined and decisive. Here at the U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Emerald Valley Golf Club, the decisive part would serve him well.

Buffalo was paired with Kevin Murphy, who plays on the Oregon State University golf team. On the 3rd hole, a 537-yard par 5, the two players launched drives that ended up in the fairway just two inches apart.

Put on your thinking cap, because now comes the rules question.

Murphy was away, so Buffalo marked his ball. Then he used his putter to move the coin away from Murphy's ball. He was careful to note the exact position of his ball, using two fingers to hold it without rotating it. He certainly did not clean it.

So far, so good. Now the tough part.

Murphy hit his shot, taking a small divot. This left the grass in a raised position directly behind the spot where Buffalo would replace his ball.

Question: Was Buffalo entitled to relief?

Answer: Absolutely, but he would have to drop the ball rather than place it.

Considering the uncertainly of dropping in a favorable lie, Buffalo elected to play the ball in its original position. Great decision, because both players birdied the hole. Both also shot 74 in the first round.

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