Jon Rahm won the Irish Open by a landslide. He finished six strokes ahead of the field and it was really never close. Unfortunately, his win will be remembered for a controversial decision made by R&A rules official Andy McFee.
Rahm’s ball came to rest just inside of his playing partner’s on the sixth hole. In order to move his marker out of the other line, he marked his ball on the side and properly moved the marker, but when he returned to replace his ball he positioned it in front of the marker and not on the side like he had originally done.
This is very similar to what Lexi Thompson went through except for this didn’t decide the outcome of a tournament and I applaud the R&A for making a decision on the spot and sticking with it. The penalty likely would not have cost Rahm the tournament considering how well he was playing and how large his lead was at the time. For something so small to determine the outcome of a tournament when the players are playing in the rain and hurrying to finish is dumb.
Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee has a different take on the non-penalty.
“The integrity of the competition was certainly at risk, and the dynamic of the competition completely changed from what it should have been to one person’s interpretation, and in my opinion, a wrong interpretation of it. It wasn’t millimeters. It was inches, probably 2-3 inches this ball was misplaced.
“So, he broke the rule. He should have been penalized, which means he wouldn’t have been playing with a five-shot lead. He would have been playing with a three-shot lead. … And all of a sudden, what looks to be something easy and a walk in the park becomes very stressful. The dynamic certainly changed there and I don’t believe it changed for the right reason.”
While I agree with Chamblee that the ball was replaced in the incorrect spot, I don’t think the integrity of the competition was at risk.
The ruling also upset Jimmy Walker, who Tweeted the following at the European Tour.