Matt Kuchar spent 10 minutes debating with two separate rules officials whether or not he could get relief in the 17th fairway at Muirfield Villiage Golf Club on Thursday after his drive came to rest in a pitch mark.
Kuchar, who was 1-over par to that point, found the fairway on the long par-4, but argued that his ball had made not one, but two pitch marks in the damp fairway.
Under the Rules of Golf, if Kuchar’s ball came to rest in its own pitch mark, then he would have been awarded free relief, but both Kuchar and the rules official agreed that the pitch mark Kuchar’s ball rested in was not his own original pitch mark. Kuchar’s argument was that his ball may have made a secondary pitch mark within a previously existing pitch mark.
PGA Tour rules official Robby Ware disagreed that Kuchar’s ball had made a secondary pitch mark, and brought in a cameraman to see the video of the ball landing to confirm his belief.
— Tom Hesketh (@tom_hesketh1) May 30, 2019
After telling Kuchar he didn’t believe the ball made a second pitch mark, Kuchar called for a second opinion.
“I’m just saying, there’s potential that it broke new ground in making its secondary pitch,” Kuchar told the second official, Stephen Cox.
“Matt, the ball came to rest right there, and we know that it’s not your pitch mark,” Cox countered.
“I’m saying, if you look at the film, it looks like it’s gone hard enough to break new ground,” Kuchar responded.
“Ultimately it’s already in a hole that’s made by someone else, and I’m not buying that on a secondary bounce we’re going to get you out of a pitch mark that’s been made by somebody else,” Cox said. “I don’t need to look at (the video), Matt. Honestly, trust me, the guys have already seen it on TV. Let’s get it back in play. It’s in a pitch mark which has been made by another stroke. That’s the decision.”
Kuchar would play from the pitch mark, hitting his shot just off the back of the green where he was able to get up-and-down for par.
“I heard it bounced in there and thought there was potential that it might have broken ground again,” Kuchar explained after the round. “That was my question, was that a new pitch now, is that a new potential embedded ball. The rules officials, they know the rules a lot better than I do. I thought there was potential that it might have broken additional ground and is that a new embedded ball. I’m not sure, and that’s why we have the rules officials.
“I’m certainly satisfied with making a 4 there. I like to think things work out the way they’re supposed to. Making 4 there is all I can ask for.”
Kuchar would go on to shoot a 1-over par 73,