Hatton out of WGC Match Play after breaking rule in playoff

England's Tyrrell Hatton falls foul of ruling on putting green. 

Andy Roberts's picture
Fri, 24 Mar 2017

Tyrrell Hatton was knocked out of the WGC Match Play during his three-man playoff match after falling foul of a putting green ruling.

Hatton, who was forced into a sudden death match with Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Charles Howell in his group, had a putt to win the match from 15 feet at the first extra hole but rolled his ball two feet behind the cup.

As it was a strokeplay playoff, Hatton had to putt out.

After pars for the Spaniard and American, the Englishman went to tap home his ball for par, only to accidentally move his ball slightly with his putter.


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Under a new rule, Hatton could have called in the referee and replaced his ball and continue without penalty. However, Hatton, having already moved his ball, proceeded to hole the putt for what he thought was a par.

Initially unaware of what he had done, Hatton had indeed broken the rule for putting from a new position and was given a two-shot penalty resulting in a double-bogey six. 

Rule 18-2 in the Rules of Golf currently states that a player incurs a one-shot penalty if he is deemed to have caused the ball to move.

But as a rules official explained to Golf Channel’s Steve Sands in the post-round interview, Hatton was not penalised for causing the ball to move.

"I noticed Tyrrell put his putter down and then started talking to his two competitors," said PGA Tour rules official Steve Carmen. 

"It sounded like something was wrong so I tried to get to the green and see what had happened. As I tried to get over there, he placed his putter behind the ball and caused the ball to move. He then putted his ball from the new position. 

"But we have a local rule in effect that if it's an accidental movement on the putting green, there is no penalty and you replace the ball. But he didn't replace the ball."

"He didn’t replace the ball, so he’s playing from the wrong place, so it’s a two-stroke penalty."

Hatton, who had won his opening two matches only to lose to Cabrera-Bello 2&1 earlier on Friday, took the rule in his stride and walked back down the fairway to the clubhouse. 

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