Here’s the bizarre Tiger Woods trash-bag ruling you missed on Sunday at the Genesis

February 18, 2020
Tiger Woods found himself out of, uh, position on Sunday at the Genesis.

Tiger Woods had a busy week at the Genesis Invitational. Between hosting the event and competing inside the ropes, there were few reprieves for Woods.

Riviera once again stifled the tournament host, making him 0-14 at the venue that has become an Achilles heel for the 15-time major champion. His 76-77 weekend performance resulted in a last-place finish for those making the cut and more questions on why his hometown event continues to stump him.

In addition to his lackluster play, Woods found himself in a precarious situation on his final nine on Sunday. On the par-4 3rd hole — his 12th of the day — Woods’ tee shot hooked left of the fairway, near a fence and a native area. That’s when he found his ball in an unusual spot: a garbage bag.

So what, exactly, was Woods supposed to do in this case? Despite Sunday being the 24th anniversary of Happy Gilmore, the PGA Tour was not playing under the strict “play it as it lies” local rule from the beloved flick. Instead, the ruling in this scenario is covered in the Rules of Golf under Rule 16.1:

Rule 16.1 b: If your ball is in the general area and there is interference by an abnormal course condition on the course, you may take free relief by dropping the original ball or another ball.

Since Woods’ ball came to rest in an immovable obstruction, he was entitled to a free drop within one club length of the nearest point of relief. Woods took his drop, pitched out and got up-and-down for a roundabout par.

Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time a high-profile player’s ball has come to rest in a trash can. Angel Cabrera faced a similar situation at the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach — which Woods went on to win.

Another notable example of a ball coming to rest in an immovable obstruction occurred on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2017. Making his professional golf debut, Steph Curry – yes, that Steph Curry – hit his opening tee shot of the Ellie Mae Classic into the cup holder of a cart.

Once again Rule 16.1 was invoked (although back then it was Rule 24-2) and a free drop was awarded.

So next time your ball ends up in a precarious spot on the course, remember Rule 16.1 and you might just get free relief from a trashy lie.

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