Drop cost Mark a packet

Rule error blow to young Welsh star

Bob Warters's picture
Mon, 4 Feb 2002


Tough luck on 23 year old Welshman Mark Pilkington, chasing his first European Tour title at the Heineken Classic, when he took a wrong penalty drop in the third round and suffered a two stroke penalty while in contention.

Despite having several rules officials patrolling the event, Mark, trailing eventual winner Ernie Els by just three shots at the time, took a penalty drop from a bush in an effort to keep play moving.

He had pulled his tee shot into deep scrub at the 15th at Royal Melbourne and arrived to discover it unplayable.

Without the option of moving it two clubs lengths (not nearer the hole) he dropped it, with a one-shot penalty behind the obstacle, chipped out and later holed a brave 15-foot putt for what he thought was a bogey five.

However, some members of the watching gallery, felt he had not followed the correct procedure by keeping the position where the ball had finished in the bush between his next shot and the flagstick, according to the Rules, and reported the incident.

Accompanied by European Tour chief referee John Paramor, Pilkington had to demonstrate where he dropped the ball. The spot was three yards off line and Paramor ruled that the Welshman had chosen the wrong spot and turned his bogey five into a triple-bogey seven.

Said Pilkington, whose challenge fell away in the final round after dropping from 2nd to 17th, said: "I didn't have anywhere I could drop it within two clubs' length, so I went back on what I thought was the line of the flag. But it was difficult to get it exactly."

Paramor commented: "There was a large gallery following and a number of them, including a couple of professional golfers, spoke to an official about where Mark had dropped the ball.

"We investigated and established the correct spot was clearly three yards left of where he hit from.

"I was worried at first that it might be a serious breach, which would result in disqualification (fortunately Mark had not signed his card). Clearly Mark was desperately upset. I would be."

Note: Rule 28: If a ball is identified and declared unplayable, having taken a one stroke penalty a player may a) play as ball as near as possible from the spot where his original ball was last played, b) drop his ball within two club lengths of where it last lay but not nearer the hole, or c) drop his ball any distance behind the spot where his ball originally lay but on the extension of the line between that spot and the hole.

 

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