From The Inbox

Jon Rahm draws penalty for only 1 reason

Players at or near the top of the leaderboard attract greater scrutiny and more attention from TV's high-definition cameras

There is only one reason why Jon Rahm received the penalty of two strokes during the final round of the Memorial Tournament on Sunday (“2020 Memorial: Jon Rahm takes his lumps and wins anyway,” July 20).

At the time, he was leading the tournament. If he had been tied for 48th when he reached the 16th hole, the TV cameras would have been nowhere in sight (unless your name is Tiger Woods). Once a player is at or near the lead, every move that he makes, and every shot that he takes is shown multiple times. Such a player basically is under a microscope.

Would that penalty have been called on a golfer who played the 16th hole two hours earlier? I think not. Fair? I also think not. Every player should be treated equally.

I also feel confident that Rahm had no idea that the ball moved ever so slightly. He doesn't have high-definition, slow-motion vision.

Ken Staroscik
Firestone, Colo.

Just think of the travel expenses that the PGA Tour would save
It would be much easier and eliminate a lot of the suspense if professional golf would go the route of professional football and baseball. And PGA Tour rules official Slugger White could take it easy at home, plus eliminate some of the risks of being infected with COVID-19 (“2020 Memorial: Jon Rahm takes his lumps and wins anyway,” July 20).

The TV announcers, including the one on Sunday at the Memorial who called the penalty against Jon Rahm, were nowhere near the course but sitting in comfortable surroundings, probably at home. White could watch four or five big-screen TVs and just wait until one of the announcers, after many slowed-down replays, called and said that he just saw a penalty (in this case, the ball moved). White could turn on the TV and make a ruling before the next shot is even struck.

Bottom line: It would make people like me be under much less stress wondering whether anyone would tell the player that a penalty might be called but does not learn the fact until after he signs his card and is disqualified.

By the way, I thought the Rules of Golf were changed in 2019 to where, if the player did not see the ball move, there was no penalty.

But just think, if Rahm had seen the ball move, it would have taken at least an hour to get the ball replaced to its original position, because only the announcer in his comfortable home would know where that spot was. I suppose that time could be shortened with replay cameras on every hole.

I am going to join the growing crowd of just turning off the sound. (I tried it after this latest incident and did not miss anything.)

George Shutt
Orlando, Fla.

Donovan’s rules
The Rules of Golf should be amended with a statement close to the following: In the course of play, if a player or player's caddie should unintentionally move, touch or alter the ball (perceptibly or imperceptibly) and no discernable advantage has been given the player, the player shall not incur a penalty (“2020 Memorial: Jon Rahm takes his lumps and wins anyway,” July 20).

The guiding principle shall be, did the player receive an advantage from the actual or perceived movement? If not, then no infraction shall occur.

John Donovan
Big Lake, Minn.

Rahm makes a habit of tamping down Rule 8.1
I agree with letter writer David Cooper (“From the Morning Read inbox,” July 21).

On a few occasions during Sunday’s final round at the Memorial Tournament (not just the 16th hole), when playing a chip shot from the rough, Jon Rahm can be seen repeatedly pressing his wedge into the ground behind the ball, then removing it, and repeating. What is he doing, and why?

This seems completely unnecessary (he could just lightly ground the club and leave it there until the backswing begins, like the rest of us) and likely violates Rule 8.1 (“Player’s Actions That Improve Conditions Affecting the Stroke”).

Scott Whitley

Close-up camera shot reveals too much
The PGA Tour has spoken (“2020 Memorial: Jon Rahm takes his lumps and wins anyway,” July 20). Now that the Memorial Tournament is in the rearview mirror and a high-definition camera caught a slight movement in the ball at the 16th hole as eventual winner Jon Rahm addressed his ball, the better question might be: How many other players addressing the ball for the past two weeks at Memorial's high rough had slight ball movement not caught on camera?

How many players profited and received a few extra dollars because they were not caught, even though they might not have seen slight ball movement in the rough?

Rahm was caught by a camera. In fairness to the field, every player in a potential penalty area needs to have a camera following him. Penalizing just one player is unfair. If you ended up finishing third and the player above you got second alone, yet he had slight ball movement on one of the many shots that he took for the week and received an extra couple of hundred thousand dollars over your place, it would be unfair. Near the top of the leaderboard, one shot can be worth more than $100,000 per position and might determine whether a player makes the top 50 in the world ranking and qualifies for top-tier events.

So, is it fair for just one player to be penalized because of a close-up camera shot?

Patrick Scott
Lakewood Ranch, Fla.

‘Experts’? At Morning Read? Well, if you say so
I would like to see the golf experts at Morning Read move beyond the meager comments made by Alex Miceli and others (“One Take: ‘Jon Rahm got a raw deal’,” July 21).

What if Jon Rahm had a small lead or no lead or was behind? What if this happens in the U.S. Open? When should competitors be notified? For example, knowing that your opponent had just incurred a penalty could change your strategy on a shot. Of course, what happens throughout the tournaments where there are no cameras?

We know that apparently an entire tournament can be played, with no player calling a penalty on himself or herself. I hope the rules folks are thinking about this and have a game plan before the next occurrence.

Also, I find it very interesting about players mashing down grass repeatedly before hitting the ball. Hopefully, Morning Read’s Mike Purkey and John Hawkins will take this on, and others, too.

Mike Bernath
Charlotte, N.C.

A head-spinning ruling
I thought that we had done away with a penalty that could be seen only with a camera close-up. I guess I was wrong what with the Jon Rahm ruling (“2020 Memorial: Jon Rahm takes his lumps and wins anyway,” July 20).

I'd like to also see the rules officials put the ball back in the 1 or 2 mm space from which it moved. Another idiotic ruling. The officials need to get their heads back on their shoulders.

We all saw a course that was not overpowered by length. Longer rough and harder fairways and greens takes care of that worry.

Michael Merrill
McKinney, Texas

Maybe Balionis’ job description, like Rahm’s scorecard, got a late revision
I didn’t know TV doubled as a rules official for PGA Tour events (“2020 Memorial: Jon Rahm takes his lumps and wins anyway,” July 20).

Not only did CBS’ camera work reveal a questionable violation by Jon Rahm, but where does Amanda Balionis, in her post-round interview, get the authority to tell Rahm that he’d better check with officials before he signs his card?

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.

‘Moving ball’ rule is a moving target
It has not been often that I have agreed with Alex Miceli’s takes this year, but I fully agree that the penalty on Jon Rahm in the final round of the Memorial was total garbage (“One Take: ‘Jon Rahm got a raw deal’,” July 21).

Yes, the ball moved; anyone could see it … with a close-up camera. Which is why the Rules of Golf become more arcane every year.

Something has to be done about the “moving ball” rule, even if it makes the old Scots and the blue-blazer crowd in Far Hills roll over in their graves.

A number of silly rules governing the game of golf have changed, and for the better. Rule 9.4 "Ball Lifted or Moved by Player" needs to be addressed with a level of common sense.

The fact that Rahm won the tournament with enough padding continues to mask just how ridiculous the ruling truly was, and continues to be.

Steve Maragakes
Buckingham, Pa.

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