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Hunter Mahan and Jamie Donaldson assessed two-stroke penalties after hitting wrong ball at U.S. Open

Hunter Mahan
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Hunter Mahan and Jamie Donaldson played each other's ball from the 18th fairway and were hit with two-shot penalties.

So this doesn't happen very often.

Hunter Mahan and Jamie Donaldson both hit the 18th fairway with their drives, but played each other's ball without recognizing it. 

Both players were hitting a Titleist ProV1x, which contributed to the mistake. They didn't see the error until reaching the 18th green and were forced to return to the fairway, take a drop and play the hole from there. They were on No. 18, but it was only the pair's ninth hole of the day. If they had not recognized the mistake and teed off on their next hole (No. 1), both would be disqualified from the tournament. 

Mahan didn't have much to say about the mishap after his round.

"Not much to describe, I just hit the wrong ball," Mahan said. "I looked at the ball. It looked -- I mean I don't know, it was one of those things I couldn't explain to you. Off the tee, it looked like that's where my ball should have been, and I couldn't explain to you how it ended up where it did. Just got to pay more attention. It's one of those fluke things. I've played a lot of rounds of golf now and it's happened maybe one time before. It's a fluke thing. I couldn't tell you how or why it happened or -- it was crazy. It was just strange."

John Wood, Mahan's caddie, spoke to the media after the round and took full responsibility for the mistake.

"Jamie realized it at first, I think," Wood said. "And it started to sink in. You can't imagine yourself doing something colossally as stupid as that, but I did it. I won't forgive myself very soon after this. Hunter was great about it. He was great all day. He had no reaction at all. He went back and hit a good shot and ended up turning around and birdieing 1. He was not happy, but he didn't visibly change the way he was playing or thinking. I just -- it's one of those things I still can't grasp what happened, it doesn't make any sense to me."

Both players mark their ball with a slash across the number.

"The only thing I can think of is I saw a slash and assumed it was Hunter's, because it's not a very common marking," Wood said. "That's all I can think of. But still, it's hard to believe. I don't believe I did something that epically dumb, but I did. I assumed, wrongly, obviously, that our ball was this one. And I walked up to it and I didn't give it a good enough look. I saw the slash and assumed it was ours. My mistake completely. You know, I take most of the heat."

Rule 15-3 states: If a competitor makes a stroke or strokes at a wrong ball, he incurs a penalty of two strokes. The competitor must correct his mistake by playing the correct ball or by proceeding under the Rules. If he fails to correct his mistake before making astroke on the next teeing ground or, in the case of the last hole of the round, fails to declare his intention to correct his mistake before leaving the putting green, he is disqualified. Strokes made by a competitor with a wrong ball do not count in his score. If the wrong ball belongs to another competitor, its owner must place a ball on the spot from which the wrong ball was first played.

Exception: There is no penalty if a competitor makes a stroke at a wrong ball that is moving in water in a water hazard. Any strokes made at a wrong ball moving in water in a water hazard do not count in the competitor’s score.

Both would card double-bogeys.

Lee Westwood said it best.

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