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.