Webb Simpson calls for rules change after playing through cracked driver at Northern Trust

Webb Simpson calls for rules change after playing through cracked driver at Northern Trust

PGA Tour

Webb Simpson calls for rules change after playing through cracked driver at Northern Trust

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Webb Simpson doesn’t pretend to know all the rules in golf. There’s simply too many, and they change with too much regularity to truly master them all.

So when he hit a “funny” drive on the third hole, looked down at his club’s head and saw it was cracked, Simpson figured he could ask the rules official about grabbing his backup driver. As it turns out, that rule has since changed, too.

Simpson had to finish out the rest of his second round at the Northern Trust with a cracked driver, sometimes hitting a 3-wood instead. Other times, he hit the faulty club anyway. He managed a 2-over 73, making the cut at 4 under overall. But the ruling left him perplexed after his round.

“There’s a lot of rules that I don’t know. Honestly a lot of players are still really confused,” Simpson said. “What harm is done by letting me switch heads? So I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t know why they changed it. I’d love to know. So, glad it didn’t cost me a missed the cut, but it’s unfortunate. I feel like it cost me a few shots.”

Simpson said the crack was about an inch and a half long. And while he used it four more times during the round, his drives hung low and swung to the left.

In April, the USGA and R&A clarified a rule regarding damaged clubs. According to the clarification, you can replace your club if the shaft breaks into pieces, splinters or is bent but not if it is only dented. If the clubface’s impact area is visibly deformed, detached or loose from the shaft or if the grip is loose, you can replace it.

However, a player is still not allowed to replace a club because there is a crack in the clubface or clubhead.

NORTHERN TRUST: Scores | Photos | Tiger WDs

The driver issue wasn’t the only time Simpson required a rules official. On the fifth green, the 34-year-old’s ball moved in the wind. He waited to hear from the official before finishing his putt, sending his partners Jon Rahm and Dustin Johnson ahead. Brooks Koepka, an ardent opponent of slow play, walked up to the green to see what the holdup was.

“Nobody knew what to do,” Simpson said. “And everybody’s going to say, ‘Well, you guys should know the rules.’ Well, there’s hundreds of rules to know.”

As Simpson wrapped up his press conference, he said the rule needs to be changed. Rahm, who was waiting for his turn with the media, said “I agree,” before saying he offered to lean on the driver in the hopes of breaking it more.

Instead, Simpson made do with what he had.

“No fault of our rules official,” Simpson said. “He made a good call. But I think the way the rule is written should be edited.”

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