Bryson DeChambeau and his old mate PGA Tour rules official Ken Tackett met again today at the WGC–FedEx St Jude Invitational. Only this time Tackett actually had some good news to deliver to DeChambeau.
DeChambeau had just hit an errant drive on the sixth hole at TPC Southwind, his ball finding the trees right of the fairway then tumbling across a cartpath and nestled under a fence that demarked out-of-bounds. As he played a provisional from the tee, Tackett used a string to determine that DeChambeau’s ball was fractionally in-bounds, even though it would be nearly impossible to advance from its position under the fence. Relief from the fence was not an option since it marked a course boundary (signifying out-of-bounds). But, because DeChambeau would be standing on the cartpath when he tried to play a punch shot from over top of the fence, he was allowed relief due to the cart path itself under Rule 16.1(b).
A great break, all things considered. That is, until his next shot. Despite picking a flattering spot in his drop zone to help keep his shot underneath the overhanging trees, DeChambeau did, in fact, clip a tree, advancing the ball just a few paces.
From there, he hit a wedge to 25 feet and almost holed the putt for par, just because. In the end, it was an eventful bogey that dropped him two shots behind leader Harris English, who birdied the hole.
Afterwards, Tackett was asked to explain the thought process for why DeChambeau was denied one form of relief but granted another.
“Well, it’s because the players at this level, they’re so good, he could have easily stood and played the golf ball from underneath the fence and advanced it probably a considerable way. In doing so, he was standing on the cartpath, so he got relief from the cartpath. Even though it doesn’t seem obvious, it is something we see often where the players will play from the other side of the fence, you know, into the fairway often. So then he gets relief for the cartpath. His nearest point of relief has to be complete relief and it has to be in-bounds, so the only place that was was on the opposite side of the cartpath. That’s why his relief was not from the fence, his relief was from the cartpath. That’s why we went straight to the left side.”
The sixth was a microcosm of DeChambeau’s round, which included only three pars during a front-nine, two-under 33. At the turn, DeChambeau was just two behind English, seemingly still in the mix to win the title. But on the 10th hole he proceeded to hit his drive through the fairway into a water hazard en route to a bogey. And then on the tricky par-3 11th, after watching English hit his tee shot short into the water on the island-green hole, DeChambeau hit his tee shot over the green. It took a big hop and then landed in the water, setting up a double-bogey.
As for DeChambeau and Tackett, the duo are connected thanks to a few other rules questions that have surfaced in past tour events. You may recall Bryson’s fire-ant incident. which also took place at this tournament last year. On the seventh hole at TPC Southwind during the first round, Tackett had to break the news to DeChambeau that the fire ants he said he saw near his ball did not constitute a “dangerous situation”.
Two weeks before that, Tackett, in a similar situation to their most recent meeting, ruled that DeChambeau’s ball was out-of-bounds on the 15th hole at Muirfield Village. He went on to make a quintuple-bogey 10 that day.
Luckily for him, only a bogey was in store for him today.
PHOTO: Icon Sportswire