Cameron Smith dragged into farcical (!) rules incident on Asian Tour

Cameron Smith was playing in the final group of the Hong Kong Open on the Asian Tour when an utterly bizarre rules incident occurred.

Ben Smith's picture
Sun, 12 Nov 2023
Cameron Smith dragged into farcical (!) rules incident on Asian Tour

Rules incidents are frequent in professional golf but they rarely last as long as this. 

What happened occurred during the final round of the Hong Kong Open on the Asian Tour's International Series. 

Ben Campbell eventually emerged the winner, finishing one stroke ahead of LIV Golf's Cameron Smith

In the same tournament, Andy Ogletree was confirmed as the first LIV Golf signing of 2024 after he won the order of merit. 

But the real talking point was what happened in the final group between Campbell, Smith and a young pro called Phachara Khongwatmai.

To set the scene, Khongwatmai tugged his tee shot into the thick brush on the 16th hole.

At the time, it felt as though he would have to hit three off the tee. Even the TV announcers said as much. 

He didn't and it took the young pro approximately 20 minutes to finish the hole. 

Khongwatmai took around 60 seconds to find his golf ball. After finding it, he appeared to annoy Campbell as he and his caddie removed a large, dead tree branch from the area. 

Campbell could be heard shouting: "He's moving stuff all around it!"

It was at this point eventual winner Campbell called for another official. 

Words were exchanged between Khongwatmai and Campbell. And not pleasant ones. 

Eventually, a second official arrived on the scene after more sounds of branches snapping could be heard. 

It was determined Khongwatmai didn't break any of the rules. He eventually made a double bogey on the hole. 

He later told reporters: "I was in a very difficult situation at that moment that I couldn't do anything.

"Also, there were broken trees which was an obstacle so I couldn't step backwards to drop the ball. I had to keep trying to hit it."


What the rules say:

According to Rule 8.1a of the Rules of Golf, a player must not take any of these actions if they improve the conditions affecting your stroke:

  • Move, bend or break any growing or attached natural object, or immovable obstruction, integral object or boundary object, or tee-marker for the teeing area when playing a ball from that teeing area.

  • Move a loose impediment or movable obstruction into position (such as to build a stance).

  • Alter the surface of the ground.

  • Remove or press down sand or loose soil.

  • Remove dew, frost or water.

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