Two weeks after his rules-related debacle at the Irish Open, Jon Rahm is again butting up against the Rules of Golf at Royal Birkdale.

The Spaniard, who carded an opening-round one-under 69, was approach his ball in the rough at the 17th hole. Rahm spotted a vine next to his ball. Assuming the vine was dead, and thus a (removable) loose impediment, he grabbed it.

“I got there and I thought it was a loose impediment because it looked dead, so I just moved it to the side. And that’s when [playing partner] Lee [Westwood] came and he realized it was attached.”

At this point, Rahm let the thorny obstruction go and summoned the authorities. The question at issue was whether Rahm improved the lie in the course of his vine-grabbing.

Interestingly, Rahm was provisionally assessed the requisite two-stroke penalty, carding a seven on the hole.

He then met with officials to review the incident after they round, they determined that he hadn’t improved his lie, and thus, shouldn’t be assessed a penalty.

“The discussion was was it an improvement of the lie or not; that’s it. I explained my version of what happened. Unfortunately for me I was the only one who saw it; there were no cameras to back me up. That’s what happened and it was never on my lie, it was never on my line, it was never on my swing path, it was not going to bother my in any way.”

Rahm said he didn’t try to lobby for not having committed the infraction, but rather he simply recounted what happened to the best of his ability and let them make their decision.

“At the end of the day it’s not my call, honestly. I can describe what happened as honestly and truthfully as possible, and as detailed as can happen, and they make the judgment call. it’s up to them.

“They did say it was a very fine line, but the decision is up to them. I would’ve been fine with whatever. They’re the rules officials; they know the rules better than any of us, and it’s their call. I said the same two weeks ago.”

Obviously, two rules situations in three weeks isn’t the best look, but any suggestions the fiery Spaniard is trying to bend the rules are misplaced based on the available evidence.

You can watch Rahm recount the entire incident in more detail to the Golf Channel, below.

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15 COMMENTS

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  1. Rahm did the right thing–in calling over the rules official. He did NOT, however, make the right call on the action. It should have been a penalty for improving his lie. But why?

    Rahm says the vine in question was not on his line and not in his way. Okay, but why did he attempt to remove it? It’s presence, obviously, was problematic, even if just visually. That means pulling on it improved his lie, even if just visually. He should have checked it carefully instead of assuming it was dead AND detached. (Being dead wouldn’t be enough.)

    But because he brought in the rules officials and, after the round, they interviewed him further and decided in his favor, it’s much ado about nothing. The number of “Shanks” this article is being given is disappointing.

  2. Major issue with golf’s honor code system. Unless you’re a silver spoon/country club kid, you are breaking the rules. You’re sneaking onto courses, practicing where you’re not supposed to, whatever it takes.

    You’re used to hearing, “you aren’t allowed to do that.” You’ve been threatened with arrest for traspassing, been verbally abused, you name it.

    And yet, if you don’t break the rules, or the law, you’re unlikely ever to be great unless you’re rich. The whole “honor” thing doesn’t work if you’re broke.

  3. First, a major college coach told me last week that there’s cheating in college golf but that they drill into their players, “don’t be that guy.”

    The message is that if you have to cheat, you’re just not that good.

    As to Rahm, only he knows for sure. If he broke the rules, he should call a penalty on himself.

  4. Also, why is “Shank” the lowest rating? Many of these “stories” deserve a “whiff” – at least with a shank, you make some kind of contact, albeit horrible, embarrassing and debilitating… A swing and a miss is still worse.

  5. “Obviously, two rules situations in three weeks isn’t the best look, but any suggestions the fiery Spaniard is trying to bend the rules are misplaced based on the available evidence.”

    And yet, this article exists, the title of which is typical sensationalist media – aka click-bait.

    “Non-incident”?

    Golf would be best served to allow the rules officials to do their jobs the best they can, and forget about the TV-watcher and forum-troll wanna-bes.

    *This* is the kind of nit-picky garbage that can drive people away from the game. What kind wants to take up a game where moving a twig gives you a two-stroke penalty? The baby-boomers raised their kids to be *WAY* more entitled than that…

  6. I find the article confusing. They don’t make it clear who brought up the infraction. Was it Rahm or Westwood. They allude to both. If its Rahm – totally cool. Two rules infractions in a couple weeks aren’t a big deal. Coincidence, if anything Rahm is a stickler on himself. If Westwood had to raise this, it changes the story completely. How bad was the infraction that Westwood noticed him removing a fixed impediment. Must’ve been at least mildly obvious.

    • Lee Westwood brought to Rahm’s attention the vine was attached which would be a rules infraction. Interesting that his view is that it was in no way on line, path, etc…then why did you even touch it? Coincidence this type of thing happens to Rahm again, although I believe he should have been penalized at the Irish Open, he seems shady to say the least never calling the penalty on himself. This doesn’t seem to back what used to be the gentleman’s game. Maybe the college coaches should teach these guys the rules while they are in college playing. What are the coaches doing with them during their time on the team?

  7. “it was never on my lie, it was never on my line, it was never on my swing path, it was not going to bother my in any way”
    So if that is the case, why move it all? The fact that Lee Westwood had to be the one to raise the issue is even more incriminating.

    • “Rahm said he didn’t try to lobby for not having committed the infraction, but rather he simply recounted what happened to the best of his ability and let them make their decision” ….

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