This one is certainly unprecedented: a rule of golf suspended and just a month into its implementation.
Furthermore, we have a retroactive rescinding of a penalty, admission that the wording of a simplified rule has confused people, and even the possibility of multiple recent past situations being brought up to the point that the PGA Tour referees are spending their days reviewing video.
Here is the statement issued at 3:02 pm ET, with interruptions:
Statement from PGA TOUR on Rule 10.2b(4)
Since the situation during Round 2 of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which resulted in PGA TOUR player Denny McCarthy receiving a two-stroke penalty under Rule 10.2b(4), the PGA TOUR has been in constant contact with the USGA about how the new rule should be interpreted.
Oh to see that Slack!
During the course of these discussions, this morning a similar situation from yesterday’s round involving Justin Thomas was also brought to our attention.
Big names involved, this is getting too dangerous!
It is clear that there is a great deal of confusion among players and caddies on the practical application of the new rule during competition, as well as questions surrounding the language of the rule itself and how it should be interpreted.
So at least one thing is clear in this.
As a result, with the full support of the USGA and The R&A, the rule will be interpreted whereby the two aforementioned situations as well as future similar situations will not result in a penalty. McCarthy’s score has been updated accordingly.
Good thing he made the cut.
We will be working vigorously with the USGA and The R&A over the coming days to further analyze and improve the situation with this rule. The USGA and The R&A will be making an announcement shortly.
And here is the USGA’s statement issued to Golfweek:
Following an ongoing dialogue with players and in cooperation with the PGA TOUR rules team, the USGA and The R&A revisited the penalty assessed to Denny McCarthy during round 2 of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. After an additional review of available video this morning, it was determined that the penalty would not apply in this instance nor in a similar instance involving Justin Thomas. In each of these cases, when the caddie was standing behind the player, the player had not yet begun taking the stance for the stroke, nor could useful guidance on aiming be given because the player was still in the process of determining how to play the stroke. The same would be true for any similar situation that might occur.
The USGA and The R&A recognize that further clarity on how to appropriately apply this Rule is needed. We are committed to assessing its impact and will provide the necessary clarifications in the coming days.
This would seem to be a new interpretation of the rule given that the language I’ve read and the instructions players received said that any kind of caddie involvement behind the player as they began their stance taking was a violation.
Now it would seem a “useful guidance” element has been added. Wow.