Webb Simpson put up an admiral title defense at The Players Championship, shooting four rounds under par capped by a 4-under par 68 on Sunday at TPC Sawgrass.
However, before the 2018 Players Champ handed off the new trophy to Rory McIlroy, he offered his own public service announcement as it relates to the Rules of Golf and their enforcement following run-in he had on the 14th green on Sunday.
Simpson hit his approach on the difficult par-4 to 47 feet from the hole on the left fringe. In reading the putt and preparing to take his stroke, Simpson’s putter got caught up in his shirt and inadvertently struck his ball, moving it slightly.
Because the ball was on the fringe and not on the putting surface, Simpson was hit with a one-stroke penalty under Rule 9.4b (Ball Lifted or Moved by Player).
After the round, Simpson became the latest player to rail against the Rules as they are written.
“This is where I’m going to be loud and clear: we have to get intent into the rules,” he said. “We have to. Because it’s killing our game when it comes to these kinds of things.”
Simpson would go on to question another rule change made in the updated version of the Rules of Golf as a means of explaining how intent is not being taken into account.
“(The official) said if the ball’s off the green it doesn’t matter,” Simpson said. “Now you can be looking for a ball in the rough this high at a U.S. Open; if you step on it, it’s a penalty. It used not to be a penalty. So they have reversed that rule that saved the player from a mistake that anybody can make, and so why would they change that rule I’m not so sure about.
“What they try to say is either it’s hard to write the rule with intent or you open it up for gray area. Well, I think it’s actually the opposite because I’m playing with Lucas (Glover), we’re up there, why would I try to move the ball? There’s no advantage. There’s cameras everywhere, too.
“I don’t know if that got on there, but my putter hit my clothes, it moved it a quarter inch, I’m going to move it back. So I’m just I’m hoping that somehow or another intent can get broadened, I guess.”