Advantageously Dropping a Ball Part 1
The other weekend, I saw 26-year-old Tommy Fleetwood, from Southport, England, come from behind to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, beating Dustin Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal by one stroke.
His play of the final hole provides a useful illustration of how golfers can benefit from using the Rules of Golf to their advantage.
Knowing that he probably required a birdie on his 72nd par-five hole, to either win the title or be involved in a playoff, Fleetwood did not get the start he wanted, as he hooked his drive towards the desert.
Fortunately for him, but not the person who was hit, his ball bounced back off a spectator close to a path where it came to rest.
Taking a natural stance for the intended stroke meant that his feet would have been on the path. The status of a path is an immovable obstruction, so he was able to take relief under Rule 24-2.
He knew that he had to determine the nearest point of relief to where his ball lay where there was no interference from the cart path and then drop a ball so that it hit the course within one club-length of that point.
Most of us would imagine this dropping area and drop a ball well within the permitted limit, but Fleetwood was thinking well ahead.
He knew that he had to go for the putting green, still about 246 metres away, with his second shot and the lie of his ball was crucial.
So he chose to try and drop the ball in a position where it was likely to roll to a position where the path still interfered, or where it would roll nearer to the hole.
In either case this would mean re-dropping the ball to comply with the requirements of Rule 20-2c. His reason for dropping the ball at an extreme permitted limit in this way was to take advantage of this part of Rule 20-2c;
If the ball when re-dropped rolls into any position listed above, it must be placed as near as possible to the spot where it first struck a part of the course when re-dropped.
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