PGA Tour star Matthew Wolff has been assessed a one-stroke penalty for a rules violation on the 1st hole of his first round at The American Express on Thursday.
Wolff thought he was heading into the weekend on 6-under par, but he will now start his third round at 5-under par after PGA Tour rules official Steve Rintoul confirmed the American had violated Rule 9.4b in round one on the Stadium Course.
Wolff's drive landed in the rough down the 1st hole but when he took his backswing for his second shot, his ball moved. Initially it had been agreed by PGA Tour rules official Slugger White that Wolff had not been responsible for his ball moving and so there was no penalty.
However, video footage then emerged of the incident during the PGA Tour's Live featured groups coverage, and upon review it was determined that Wolff had indeed broken Rule 9.4b as he had been responsible for the movement of his golf ball.
As a result, Wolff's opening round score of 1-under par 71 becomes a level-par 72 to go alongside his improved second-round 67.
The rule states: "If a player lifts or deliberately touches his or her ball at rest or causes it to move, the player gets one penalty stroke."
PGA Tour rules official Rintoul said: "Once we realized there was video evidence, we had to look at it. Matthew was extremely professional and initially thought he was in a disqualification situation, but, fortunately for him, it was not.
"He was acting under the jurisdiction of an official yesterday and understood how the penalty applies when a ball is moved by the player. Matthew said he didn’t feel like he caused the ball to move, but certainly understood that he could have. He was extremely professional about the entire situation."
Wolff will start his third round six strokes off the pace currently set by Sungjae Im on 11-under par. A total of 17 players lie just three strokes off the lead heading into the weekend.
Players have rotated between the Stadium Course and Nicklaus Tournament Course at The American Express for the first two rounds, but all players will compete on the Stadium Course for the final 36 holes.