Wednesday 13 November 2019

Jon Rahm in new rules controversy at The Open

Jon Rahm of Spain on the 16th during Day 4 of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship at Portstewart Golf Club in Portstewart, Co Derry. Photo by John Dickson/Sportsfile
Jon Rahm of Spain on the 16th during Day 4 of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship at Portstewart Golf Club in Portstewart, Co Derry. Photo by John Dickson/Sportsfile

Andy Hampson

Jon Rahm was at the centre of a rules controversy for the second time in less than a fortnight on the first day of the Open at Royal Birkdale.

The Spaniard was penalised two shots on the 17th for moving a plant close to his ball but later had the strokes restored after rules officials accepted his explanation that his lie was not improved.

It meant the 22-year-old was able to sign for the one-under-par 69 that he shot rather than the one-over score that was initially indicated when he completed his round.

The incident came after a similar brush with authority during the final round of his successful charge to victory at the Irish Open at Portstewart earlier this month. On that occasion, Rahm was found to have incorrectly replaced his ball on the sixth green but he was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

On this occasion Rahm moved what he felt was dead vegetation, which would have been classed as a loose impediment, only for playing partner Lee Westwood to point out it was something growing.

Rahm said: "I don't know what to call the plants - the one with the thorns in it, about three feet long - it was just right over my ball.

"I thought it was a loose impediment because it looked dead so I just moved it to the side. That is when Lee came. He realised it was not loose, it was still attached.

"We asked the rules official. He said improving my lie by moving an impediment that was not loose was a two-stroke penalty.

"That is what we agreed on. They said it was a two-stroke penalty and we were going to review the footage afterwards.

"Unfortunately for me I was the only one that saw it, there were no cameras to back me up.

"But it was never on my lie, never on my line, never on my swing path. It was not going to bother me any way.

"I explained my version of what happened. Basically after that they made the decision there was no stroke penalty."

Rahm spent a considerable amount of time in the recorder's office after his round but, after being cleared again, said he would have respected a decision either way.

He said: "At the end of the day, it is not my call. It is up to them. They did say it was a very fine line but the decision is up to them. I would have been fine with whatever."

PA Media

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