Did Hideki improve his lie… or didn’t he?
That was the question.
In the second round of the Hero World Challenge, Hideki Matsuyama was at the center of a rules quandary after he chunked a chip shot on the 18th hole. As the ball rolled back toward his feet, Matsuyama tamped down the divot he had created with the shot, which could have been interpreted as an attempt to improve his lie for the ensuing shot.
You can’t do that Hideki. pic.twitter.com/Nu3NUCAbLV— Golf Unfiltered (@GolfUnfiltered) December 1, 2017
The episode generated some chatter on social media.
Bunch of @USGA if they penalize Hideki Matsuyama for repairing his divot with his foot.. ball didn’t end up near repaired area... #HeroWorldChallenge Another corrupt & out of touch NCAA, FIFA & IOC type of organization ... old fuddy duddy’s— Patrick Phillips (@CaptPat48) December 1, 2017
Under Rule 13-2, a player must not improve or allow to be improved “the position or lie of his ball…or the area of his intended stance or swing…by pressing a club on the ground.” However, officials deemed that Matsuyama did not violate the rule, because he did not intend to improve his lie. Tour rules official Mark Russell rendered the verdict after discussing the matter with Matsuyama following the round.
Golf Channel’s Curt Byrum sounding less than enthused at the rules official accepting Matsuyama’s explanation on the rules question.— Eamon Lynch (@eamonlynch) December 1, 2017
With good reason.
Matsuyama bogeyed the 18th, the lone blemish in an otherwise a sparkling round. He made seven birdies on his way to a 66 and trails leader Charley Hoffman by five shots.