PINEHURST, N.C. — Bryson DeChambeau hit exactly one bad drive all day. And now, he was behind what looked like a telephone pole. The drive came on Pinehurst’s par-5 fifth, DeChambeau’s 14th hole of his first round.

The reachable par-5 meant the group in the fairway needed to wait for the green to clear, which created an awkward logjam on the tee box. DeChambeau waited some 20 minutes before finally getting the go-ahead, and whatever muscle stiffness accumulated during that time sent DeChambeau’s drive wide right, into the trees and near the out of bounds fence.

A crowd had gathered around DeChambeau’s ball by the time he had arrived, as had a rules official. DeChambeau’s ball was in play, but between him and the hole was a small, skinny pole. It was a ShotLink tower, installed by the tournament this week, to track the shots of each player coming through. Under the Rules of Golf, that made this structure a “temporary immovable obstruction,” and Bryson was to move his ball to the nearest point of relief, under Rule F-23.

Could DeChambeau have hit his ball around the tower? Yes, but he wasn’t obligated to.

The front portion of the fifth green is occupied by a large false front. Right of the green is a bunker, which the green slopes away from. The flattest portion of the fifth green extending from front right to back left.

Players knew the best target was on the left side of the green, or long left. Homa missed in the right bunker and failed to get up and down. Hovland missed his shot long left, and would’ve got up and down for birdie were it not for a missed five-footer. Bryson wanted to follow the Hovland route. 2024-06-13 at 7.13.46 PM.png

“That pole is right on the line where I want to go,” the 2020 U.S. Open champion said.

The nearest point of relief looked to be about 30 feet closer to the fairway, which brought the ShotLink tower out of play, plus two more clublengths—another three feet.

When it came to the drop itself, DeChambeau was equally deliberate. The issue he was trying to avoid was dropping his ball into a footprint within the trampled-down sand.

“I think the best-case scenario is that I drop it as close to the tee as possible, and let it trickle around here,” Bryson said to his caddie, Gregory Bodine. He was pointing to a large footprint that had pushed up sand around its perimeter. 2024-06-13 at 7.41.53 PM.png

And that’s what happened. He dropped his ball, and watched it trickle back a few inches. The ball was in play.

Incidentally, from his new spot, DeChambeau hit his ball exactly on the line he said he was intending to: onto the back-left portion of the green some 244 yards away, which he two-putted for birdie. It was DeChambeau’s final birdie of the day en route to a three-under 67.

Drops like this, under the Temporary Immovable Obstruction provision, have become something of a sore spot for fans, who feel TIO relief is too generous for players. Players, often, agree.

“I got a really lucky drop,” DeChambeau says. “Really lucky.”

But the rules are the rules. The USGA created this one, and now players know how to use it. At the 2024 U.S. Open, it’s a detail in the rulebook which might prove the difference.


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