Graeme McDowell hasn’t had much luck when it comes to the final hole of his first round in a BMW-sponsored tournament this season.
The 33-year-old Ulsterman, who received a two-shot penalty for causing his ball to move in the right-hand trees of the 18th during the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in May, once again fell foul of golf’s overly-officious rules at the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick yesterday.
After holing out for a sensational eagle-two at the par-4 eighth (his 17th) to move to 5-under, McDowell fired his second to the par-5 ninth into the greenside bunker and looked set to move within two shots of the first-round lead.
But his ball came to rest in front of a small branch with a leaf attached. When McDowell went to address his dimples, he loosely brushed a leaf and incurred a two-shot penalty for having touched a loose impediment.
The Northern Irishman instantly realised his error and called the penalty upon himself.
“The second I grazed it, we knew we might be in trouble,” said the 2010 US Open champion, who to his credit got up-and-down for a bogey-six to card a 4-under 68.
“Despite the fact nothing has moved, the lie hasn’t improved. I just didn’t give the branch enough respect. I’ve never seen that scenario before. It’s a tough lesson.”
Several weeks ago during the final round of the PGA Championship, Carl Pettersson faced a similar incident when he was penalised two shots for disturbing a dead leaf within the confines of the hazard line.