SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – If Jordan Spieth could hit the fairway on Baltusrol’s par-4 seventh hole he wouldn’t find himself explaining a rules decision like he did Friday afternoon.
Spieth, who shot 67 in the second round to move into contention midway through the PGA Championship at 3-under par, has missed the seventh fairway far to the right in each of the first two days. He made a double bogey there Thursday and a bogey on Friday.
In the second round, Spieth’s errant tee shot came to rest on a gravel cart path that had several small pools of standing water as a result of heavy rains in the morning. Seeing relief from the path and the casual water, Spieth found himself in a drawn out discussion about his options to play his second shot.
Ultimately, Spieth dropped his ball on the gravel path and played from there, though there were questions about the drop because the toes of his left foot appeared to hang over one of the pools of casual water.
Under the Rules of Golf, if a player takes relief from casual water, he must take complete relief, meaning no part of his stance came come in contact with the casual water.
Rules official Brad Gregory worked with Spieth on his drop, which was legal because Spieth took full relief only to change the line of his stance and shot after being given relief.
“It was as complicated as I’ve ever really had it,” Spieth said.
Here’s how the PGA of America explained the ruling.
“Jordan selected a club and demonstrated a swing and direction that he would have used, if there were no casual water present (Decision 24-2b/1). This stroke and direction was toward the hole. After going thru the relief procedure, the ball was in play on the artificially surfaced path and clear from his stance and swing for the direction and type of shot he originally chose to play.
“Once the ball was dropped and in play, Jordan had the option to select another type of stroke or another type of club to actually play the shot and he chose to play a stroke to the right of a tree in an attempt to try to hook the ball toward the green.
“In this case, Jordan elected to play in a different direction of play based on Decision 20-2c/0.8. Jordan was entitled to either play the ball as it lay, even if his stance was still in the casual water or, he could have elected to take relief again from the casual water under this different type of stroke that he then elected to play.”
Spieth hit his second shot over the green and made a bogey. Unlike the Dustin Johnson situation at the U.S. Open last month, Spieth said there was no uncertainty in his mind about what he had done.
“I never thought twice about it,” Spieth said.