Notable golf rules incidents of 2012

1 of 10 Jamie Squire/Getty Images
It didn't take long for the Ryder Cup at Medinah to get heated. On the second hole of the first alternate-shot match, which pitted Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker against Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, McIlroy's tee shot landed next to a sprinkler near the green. McDowell asked for relief, but Furyk quickly argued that the lie did not allow for a free drop. After a long discussion, the rules official agreed with Furyk, and McDowell was forced to hit the ball from the original lie.
2 of 10 Fred Vuich/SI
Carl Pettersson began the final round of the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island tied for second, three shots back of Rory McIlroy. On the first hole, Pettersson drove his ball into a sandy waste area. When taking his second shot, Pettersson's club nicked a leaf during his backswing, causing the leaf to move. Since the leaf was considered a loose impediment in a lateral hazard, Pettersson was penalized two strokes, costing him any chance of catching McIlroy, who went on to win by eight.
3 of 10 Carlos M. Saavedra/SI
Fighting to make the cut on Friday at the Wells Fargo Championship, Tiger Woods hooked his drive on the fifth hole into the trees. After searching, the ball was nowhere to be found. Just before heading back to the tee, a spectator told the rules official that he had seen the ball land, but that it had disappeared by the time he got to the spot. Based on that evidence alone, the official ruled that the ball had been pocketed by a fan and awarded Woods a free drop, saving him two precious strokes.
4 of 10 Evan Vucci/AP
On Saturday at the PGA Championship, Rory McIlroy watched as his drive seemed to disappear near a tree guarding the par-4 third green. After searching with no luck, a TV camerman told McIlroy that the ball was stuck in the tree. Instead of having to go back to the tee for a lost ball, he was able to take an unplayable lie, and he went on to par the hole.
5 of 10 DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
Heading into the final round of the Masters, Phil Mickelson was the favorite to win his fourth green jacket, but his hopes were dashed on the par-3 fourth hole. Mickelson was focused on keeping his tee shot left of the pin, which brought the grandstands into play. If he found the stands, the rules would work in his favor, giving him a free drop near the green. Sure enough, he knocked his shot into the crowd, but instead of staying put, his ball caromed off a railing and into the woods behind a bush. After some ugly, right-handed swipes at the ball, Mickelson finished with a triple bogey and his lead was gone.
6 of 10 Scott Halleran/Getty Images
On the final hole of the Crowne Plaza Invitational, Zach Johnson held a three-stroke lead over Jason Dufner, who was away on the green. Johnson moved his ball mark so Dufner could putt, but he forgot to move his ball mark back to its original position when it was his turn. When Johnson's putt dropped, he celebrated until a rules official alerted him of the penalty. Fortunately for Johnson, the penalty only cost him two strokes, which still left him with a one-stroke victory.
7 of 10 Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Morgan Pressel faced off against Azahara Munoz in the semifinals of the Sybase Match Play Championship. Pressel won the 13th hole, giving her a commanding 3-up lead with five holes to play. Or so she thought. Once the hole was finished, Pressel was penalized for slow play, which resulted in a loss of the hole. So, Pressel's was lead went from 3 up to 1 up in the blink of an eye. She was unable to recover and eventually lost the match.
8 of 10 Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
During the second round of the Wells Fargo Championship, Ryan Moore addressed his 10-inch par putt on the 11th hole, only to watch his ball move slightly before he hit it. Despite a 2011 rules change that determined there is no penalty if a ball is moved by an outside agency, like the wind, the rules official decided that no outside agency had caused the movement. Moore was assessed a one-shot penalty and lost by three shots.
9 of 10 Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
After signing for a two-under 70 in the second round of the PGA Championship, Michael Hoey realized he had made a critical error. On the ninth hole, Hoey had removed sand that was covering the ball to make sure it was his. He then forgot to put the sand back, failing to re-create his lie, which was a two-stroke penalty. Hoey called the error on himself and was unceremoniously disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard.
10 of 10 Chris Condon/Getty Images
Blayne Barber wasn't sure if he'd brushed a leaf while in a bunker during the second round of the first stage of PGA Tour Q school. According to, Barber's caddie insisted that he hadn't touched it. Barber went ahead and gave himself a one-stroke penalty anyway, but while discussing the incident that night with a friend, Barber learned the penalty was supposed to be two strokes. He finished out the weekend and easily advanced, but six days later, unable to find peace with his decision, Barber called the PGA Tour and DQ'd himself for signing an incorrect scorecard.