Here’s a look back at seven famous recent rules controversies — and how the new rule would have affected them.
1. Lexi Thompson, 2017 ANA Inspiration
What happened then: We start with the obvious one. Although the USGA says it’s been working on this rule for awhile, there’s no doubt what happened to Thompson earlier this month expedited the process. The LPGA star was hit with a four-stroke penalty during her final round for improperly marking her golf ball on the 17th green the previous day. She wound up losing a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.
If it happened now: Oddly enough, the USGA didn’t provide a definitive answer to this. The rule still allows for call-ins and video reviews, and in this case, Thompson clearly put her ball back in the wrong spot. But the new rule says if players use “reasonable judgement,” when determining the location of replacing their ball or taking a drop, then they’re in the clear. Thompson claims there was no intent in her mistake so it seems like she’d be given a pass, but this is murky. The new rule also doesn’t solve the problem that she was essentially penalized twice for the same violation because she signed an incorrect scorecard.
2. Anna Nordqvist, 2016 U.S. Women’s Open
What happened then: Just a couple weeks after Dustin Johnson’s rules fiasco at the men’s Open (we’re not including that because that situation was addressed by a different new rule), Nordqvist was given a two-shot penalty during a playoff with Brittany Lang for inadvertently touching sand on her backswing in a fairway bunker on the second playoff hole. The infraction could only be seen on video, and both players were informed of the penalty on the next and final hole.
If it happened now: Using the new clause, “when video reveals evidence that could not reasonably be seen with the ‘naked eye,'” this wouldn’t have been a penalty. In fact, this seems to be the very example the USGA used in its Tuesday press release: An example includes a player who unknowingly touches a few grains of sand in taking a backswing with a club in a bunker when making a stroke.Thus, it would have been ruled that Nordqvist gained no advantage from her mistake, and it may have kept USGA president Diana Murphy from making that name gaffe at the trophy ceremony.