Rules of golf: 10 biggest controversies of the decade

OAKMONT, PA - JUNE 19: Dustin Johnson of the United States chats with a rules official behind the 16th green during the final round of the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club on June 19, 2016 in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images) Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Rules of golf: 10 biggest controversies of the decade

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Rules of golf: 10 biggest controversies of the decade

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There was no shortage of options for making this list.

Plenty of first-name only star power — Phil, Tiger, DJ and Lexi — were among the biggest offenders.

That’s because the Rules of Golf are complicated, and despite revisions and clarification and an overhaul that went into effect in 2019, there are still regular occurrences where the punishment doesn’t seem to fit the crime plus plenty of room for ambiguity.

Here are the 10 biggest Rules controversies that sparked debate in this decade:

10. Haotong Li, 2019 Dubai Desert Classic

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JANUARY 27: Haotong Li of China takes his tee shot on hole one during Day Four of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club on January 27, 2019 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Haotong Li at the 2019 Omega Dubai Desert Classic in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

In the final round, Haotong Li canned a birdie putt on the 18th hole to apparently finish in third place. But as ESPN’s Lee Corso would say, not so fast, my friends. Li’s caddie violated one of the new Rules of Golf that went into effect in 2019 – Rule 10.2b – “once the player begins taking a stance for the stroke, and until the stroke is made, the player’s caddie must not deliberately stand on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball for any reason.” The two-stroke change dropped Li to a tie for 12th place and cost him the equivalent of about $100,000.

As a result of this ruling and a similarly harsh interpretation of the Rule against Denny McCarthy at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February, a clarification was released addressing issues with the Rule. In short, it clarified what it meant to “deliberately” stand behind the player and provided more guidance for when a player actually has “begun taking his or her stance.”

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