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November 19, 2013

USGA: 'Difficult to speculate' if new rule would change Tiger penalty

Posted at 3:03 PM by Mike Walker | Categories: R&A, Rules of Golf, Tiger Woods, USGA

When the USGA and R&A announced a rule change involving video evidence of a player accidentally causing a ball to move, most golf fans thought of Tiger Woods being assessed a two-stroke penalty at the BMW Championship when a PGA Tour video producer saw Woods' ball move while he tried to move a twig near his ball [see video above].

Under the new rule -- effective Jan. 1, 2014 -- a golfer who unwittingly moves his golf ball during competition may not be penalized if the ball's movement could not reasonably have been detected without the use of "enhanced technology."

That must mean that the Woods case -- where the penalty was determined after a close look at the video evidence -- would not have resulted in a penalty under the new rule, right? Not so fast. USGA rules official Thomas Pagel told Golf.com's Josh Sens that it is impossible to know if Woods would have received the same penalty under the new rule.

“It’s very difficult to go back in time and speculate,” Pagel said. “The committee at the time was faced with one question -- did the ball move? -- and the evidence showed that it did. Moving forward, a number of other factors will have to be taken into consideration, including what the player could reasonably have been expected to see.”

You can read the full text of the rule change at USGA.org.

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