A leaf led to one player's four-stroke penalty — and even worse — it might cost him a PGA Tour card as well.
Matthew Southgate was one over through 14 holes during the final round of the DAP Championship on Sunday, which is a part of the Web.com Tour Finals.
While Southgate was putting on the 15th at Canterbury Golf Club in Ohio, his ball was struck by a leaf that blew across the green, and it pushed the ball off line ever so slightly.
Southgate finished the hole, but he made a huge error in the process. Southgate should have placed his ball back to its original location and replayed the shot without penalty, but by continuing the hole he handed himself a four-stroke penalty (two for playing from the wrong spot and two more for signing an incorrect card).
If this sounds familiar, it's because it happened to Lexi Thompson earlier this year. She received the dreaded four-stroke penalty for playing from the wrong spot and signing an incorrect scorecard at the ANA Inspiration.
Jim Duncan, the Web.com's vice president of rules and competitions, clarified the ruling in an email to GOLF.com:
Matthew's putt was deflected by a leaf in motion and the putt was missed. Rule 19-1 requires for the stroke to be cancelled and replayed. Matthew proceeded to tap in his next putt and continued on with his round. The committee was made aware of the situation after Matthew signed his scorecard and prior to the close of competition. The result was the following: Two penalty strokes for a breach of 19-1 (Matthew did not cancel and replay the stroke, see Decision 19-1/3) plus an additional two penalty strokes for a breach of 6-6d (see the exception for Rule 6-6d).
This all led to a quadruple-bogey 8, and it got worse when he bogeyed 17 and tripled the 18th to shoot 79 and fall into 66th place. Now he has even more work to do to jump into the top 25 at next week's Web.com Tour Championship to secure his PGA Tour card.