The Rules of Golf giveth and the Rules of Golf taketh away. That was the tale of Zach Johnson’s second round at the Travelers Championship.
Entering the day with a share of the lead and starting on the back nine, Johnson played his first seven holes in 1-under par when he reached the par-4 17th hole. Knocking his drive into the water hazard that guards the right side of the hole, Johnson took advantage of one of his five options for relief from a lateral water hazard and went equidistant on the other side of the hazard.
Just wait until you see where he hit this from.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 22, 2018
“It was kind of hard to determine where the ball crossed, but I think my playing partners and I were fairly conservative,” Johnson said, according to PGATour.com. “I don’t like to push it on that.
“So we took the mark and I used the rule to my advantage and went lateral, which was towards 16 tee box. There was kind of a brown area there that was within two club lengths, so I dropped it there and I thought, you know what? If I get a decent lie, I can maybe give it a whirl because there’s really not a whole lot there between me and the hole, and maybe I can get it around the green and make a 5. If I don’t get a good lie, I’ll just wedge it out on the fairway and try to get up-and-down for 5.”
The lie turned out to be good enough and Johnson hit his third shot from 231 yards from the side of the 16th tee box to just inside 8 feet, where he made the putt.
Johnson’s rules run-ins weren’t done, however. Only four holes later on the par-4 3rd hole, Johnson had a bizarre incident take place. Putting for birdie from 18 feet, Johnson watched as his ball tracked at the hole only to hang on the lip.
Making his way to the ball and counting the 10 seconds he’s allowed to wait to see if the ball would fall in, Johnson accepted his fate and went to tap in his par when he noticed the ball started to move and fell in.
“You can call it unfortunate; you can just call it the Rules of Golf,” Johnson said. “I really don’t know. I’m not going to lose one second of sleep. I don’t want to say it’s irrelevant. It’s just the way it goes.
“Even if the ball is moving, it’s deemed to be at rest because it’s on the lip. Don’t ask me why, but that’s just the way it is. So even if I would have hit a moving ball there, it would not have mattered. Technically, I wouldn’t have to tap it in either, I guess, because it’s a one-shot penalty. Once the ball’s in the hole, the ball’s in the hole.”
PGA Tour Vice President of Rules Mark Russell explained the ruling.
“(For the ball to fall in, it took) about 16 to 18 seconds, something like that. Well over 10 seconds.” Russell said. “If that would have happened with eight seconds once he had reached the hole, he would’ve made a 3.”
Instead, Johnson settled for a par.
Zach Johnson took a par.
He sits one back of the lead.
His thoughts: pic.twitter.com/e2v7IQiD41
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 23, 2018
Johnson finished the the round with a birdie on the ninth hole, his 10th of the day and enters the weekend one shot behind 36-hole leader Brian Harman. He will tee off on Saturday at 1:45 p.m. alongside Russell Henley.