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Shane Lowry roasts rules officials for PGA Championship debacle



Shane Lowry isn’t exactly thrilled with the ruling–or lack thereof–he got at the PGA Championship.

Viewers joined the drama in medias res late in the Sunday telecast, Justin Thomas waiting to play his pitch shot from beside the par-3 16th green. Lowry was 10 under at the time, four strokes behind Brooks Koepka (Thomas was 11 under). The Irishman’s tee shot missed the green, settling next to a camera tower.

It was unclear during the telecast what was keeping Lowry from playing as he argued with officials, and the commentators seemed to suggest Lowry ought to go ahead and play and stop obstructing Thomas. JT eventually played, hitting a poor shot and bogeying the hole. Lowry, after a near 10-minute delay played from his original position and bogeyed the hole. Running hot, he bogeyed the 17th hole as well to fall outside the top 10.

Now, Lowry is speaking on what happened, telling the Irish Times

“I think the referee didn’t have the balls to make a decision there, and if he did I would have had an easier shot…If you put (European Tour official) John Paramor or any of the good referees out there, and he would have given me full relief. But he wasn’t giving me full relief, he was telling me to drop it in a tree basically.”

“The camera tower was the issue. I took my drop there was another camera tower in my way, straight away I felt I should get dropped on other side and they were getting me to drop it in the middle of the tree. I can’t, so where do I drop it? They’re saying drop it here, I have a club length (to drop the ball) and it is still my way. He wouldn’t make a decision. The other referee said, ‘it is your decision’. I said, ‘Do you know what? I’m just going to play’. I didn’t want to wait around any longer.”

Thomas, for his part, didn’t blame Lowry.

“It had nothing to do with Shane. The rules officials were having a hard time coming up with a ruling,” Thomas said. “They were kind of looking at each other and saying, ‘Well, what do we do?’ And Shane’s like, ‘Look, just tell me if I get a drop or not.’ And I’m a quick player, and that’s why I went.”

You can see Lowry’s eventual shot and the position he was in here.

Look, we all know the Rules of Golf can be complicated in their application. We also know that if an official gives a player bad advice, the player isn’t protected if he violates the Rules by the mere fact that he was doing what the official directed.

Thus, in situations where officials aren’t sure, they have little incentive to offer firm guidance, which brings up a more important point: The Lowry situation wasn’t some outrageous and unforeseen development. With the tower in play, all officials should have been well aware of the players’ options. In general, you want all officials to be able to apply the rules, yes, but particularly in expected situations.

More than mere doofery, the debacle speaks to a lack of preparation that is utterly unacceptable. Equally unacceptable–and likely final scoreboard altering–is the amount of time it took to come to the (lack of) decision.

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  1. Howard Meditz

    Aug 15, 2018 at 9:23 am

    Decision 34-2/2 tells us that this quote from this article is factually incorrect:

    “We also know that if an official gives a player bad advice, the player isn’t protected if he violates the Rules by the mere fact that he was doing what the official directed.”

    34-2/2 Referee Authorizes Player to Infringe a Rule
    Q.In error, a referee authorized a player to infringe a Rule of Golf. Is the player absolved from penalty in such a case?

    A.Yes. Under Rule 34-2, a referee’s decision is final, whether or not the decision is correct.

  2. Stuart F

    Aug 15, 2018 at 9:06 am

    Maybe he was hoping for “nicest” point of relief instead of nearest point of relief.

  3. Chris

    Aug 14, 2018 at 11:19 pm

    He hit it there not the rules official…suck it up…take your medicine…hit it again…it isn’t the rules officials job to bail you out

  4. tim

    Aug 14, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    I think the officials were stumped that Lowry was asking for advice. There was nothing impeding his swing or the path of the ball, play it where it lies.

  5. Andy

    Aug 14, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    Based on Lowry’s own description, the officials told him where the nearest point of relief was and what his options were. They can’t tell him where to play it from. That is his decision.

    If John Paramor would have given Lowry free relief from a tree, then he should be fired immediately. If not, then I think he is owed an apology.

  6. jgpl001

    Aug 14, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    Unbelievable that you could have 2 officials who basically hadn’t a clue at the PGA, a Major???

    After the debacle at the US Open and now this the USGA need to snap out of it and move with the times

    Wake Up boys, wake up

  7. jason

    Aug 14, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    the point is they have officials on course for a reason and the fact they didn’t know what to do in one of the most common occurrences on tour is bothersome. Damn straight if that were koepka or woods they would have got it correct. im surprised we didn’t here more on the issue

  8. Rev G

    Aug 14, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    didn’t seem like the shot he ended up taking was all that unreasonable. he had a full swing and a decent lie, with no rough. he probably had to keep it low because of branches – but wouldn’t you expect that anyway when you hit it in the trees?

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19th Hole

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19th Hole

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