PEBBLE BEACH, CALIFORNIA | Davis Love III can remember a time when golf’s organizing bodies would not have reacted the way they did to the brush fire that erupted last weekend when Denny McCarthy was a victim of the game’s new rules, getting penalized for his caddie standing behind him as he contemplated his shot.
The penalty was applied on Friday afternoon at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, rescinded on Saturday and by Wednesday, Rule 10.2b (4) had been clarified by the USGA and the R&A to assure it is fairly applied.
“It used to be like, no, we’re not going to change. We have a rules cycle of every 10 years or whatever and we won’t change it until then. Too bad. Now they have a different attitude,” Love said Thursday at Monterey Peninsula Country Club, where he posted an opening 71 in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
The McCarthy penalty, which followed a penalty on Li Haotong in a European Tour event for the same violation, brought into sharp focus the strict interpretation being applied to a rules change that had a simple intent – to prevent caddies from standing behind players to make sure they are properly aligned, a tactic that had become prevalent on the LPGA Tour.
In clarifying the rule, the language wasn’t changed but the intent was more broadly defined so as not to penalize players for unintended actions.
“For a player to get penalized almost inadvertently because the caddie was back there, that was not (the intention),” USGA CEO Mike Davis s...
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