From The Inbox

‘Gentleman’ Jon Rahm gets the shaft

2-stroke penalty casts ‘negative slant’ on Rahm’s victory at Memorial Tournament and should be rescinded, reader contends

I was dismayed and angry at the PGA Tour’s decision to enforce a penalty on Jon Rahm during the final round of the Memorial Tournament (“2020 Memorial: Jon Rahm takes his lumps and wins anyway,” July 20).

The rule change from a few years ago, Rule 9.4 "Ball Lifted or Moved by Player," states that a ball has to be reasonably seen to have moved by the player in order for the penalty to be assessed. This clearly was not the case in this instance. It was only the cameras that were able to pick this up. The fact that Rahm was gentleman enough to accept the penalty does nothing to make this mistake right.

Rahm said he didn’t see it, and given the circumstances, he should be believed.

This casts an unneeded negative slant to this professional’s victory and should be rescinded. The fact that it did not affect the outcome is irrelevant because it could have in different circumstances.

Rahm should be commended for his comments during his interviews. The PGA Tour staff should examine its ruling.

Paul Sunderland
Los Angeles

Rahm crushes Rule 8.1 even worse than Rule 9.4
Jon Rahm is a world-class golfer, no doubt, and he outplayed the field at the Memorial Tournament (“2020 Memorial: Jon Rahm takes his lumps and wins anyway,” July 20).

His obvious lack of self-control (acting out and slamming clubs) is regrettable, but that is not the most disturbing aspect of his behavior.

The penalty assessed for causing the ball to move (one stroke) and playing from a wrong position (one more stroke) can be debated by reasonable observers (Rule 9.4: “Ball Lifted or Moved by Player”). My view is that he would have known the ball moved.

What is baffling to me is the obvious, repeated violation of Rule 8.1: “Player’s Actions That Improve Conditions Affecting the Stroke,” which permits the player to “lightly ground the club” behind the ball before the shot.

Rahm can be seen on several occasions, including the 16th hole where he incurred the penalty, firmly pressing the thick rough behind the ball, thereby gaining an obvious advantage on contact.

Has the rule changed, or are the broadcasters so invested in protecting the “brand” of the new world No. 1-ranked player that they choose to ignore the rules?

David Cooper
Leaburg, Ore.

PGA Tour’s rules staff errs in dinging Rahm
First, I’m glad that this is a moot point and did not affect the outcome of the Memorial Tournament (“2020 Memorial: Jon Rahm takes his lumps and wins anyway,” July 20). But, the PGA Tour rules staff erred by assessing Jon Rahm a two-stroke penalty on the 16th hole Sunday.

The rules implemented in 2019 were written to specifically address this issue. No longer was it to be allowed for HDTV, super-slow-motion video or viewers watching at home to call penalties on very minute ball movements. It has to be something noticeable to the naked eye. There is no question the ball moved ever so slightly. However, I believe Rahm when he said he didn’t notice it, as he most likely was focused on his landing area for the chip shot.

The ruling was valid if a) someone at the 16th green thought he detected the ball moving and reported it to rules officials who then checked the monitors or b) the rules officials thought Rahm clearly knew what he was doing and was intentionally improving his lie. But even then, how would they know about it if not for high-def TV?

I think the rule was good (Rule 9.4: “Ball Lifted or Moved by Player”). Whatever Rahm did, the difficulty of the shot essentially was the same. The ball was still in the rough. The players are supposed to be given the benefit of the doubt.

The PGA Tour needs to be committed to this rule, or else scrap it and go back to the way it was. TV always will show these replays and notice things that the players reasonably can’t be expected to notice. The rule was implemented, so follow it.

Jon Lucas
Little Rock, Ark.

Split-screen ads leave clear image: They’re not working
Well, now that we're back to watching golf on TV, I thought I'd share something that has been bothering me – and I'm sure many others – for a long time: the annoying “Playing Through” or “Eye on the Course” or “Watch my damn ad or else” or whatever you want to call it.

If ever there were an example of a lose-lose proposition, this is it. Unless the viewer has a mammoth screen that takes up half of the living-room wall, he has to get up close and even squint to see what is happening as the sponsors' bilge fills at least 75 percent of the screen. Oftentimes, I just make the sacrifice of fast-forwarding through these times and figure I'll find out whether something really important happened.

From the sponsor's point of view, the viewer is highly distracted by the play on the course and is not likely to be receptive to said sponsor's message. Even if the viewer leaves the sound on (which is unlikely), the message doesn't really get through.

I know that sponsors pay dearly for the ad time and without them, we might not be able to see any golf. I don't know what the solution for sponsors is, but this isn't it.

Tim Schobert

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