Rules Official Slugger White On The Brian Davis Penalty Call


CHRIS REIMER: I’d like to introduce PGA TOUR tournament director and rules official Slugger White.

Slugger, if you could, just take us through the playoff hole and the rules infractions with Brian Davis.

SLUGGER WHITE: Well, when he hit the ball in the hazard, I cautioned him not to touch anything loose. When I went down in there, he said fine. And it’s really strange, all these reeds that were loose, most of them were going this way, and this one reed was sticking out just outside his ball, I guess. And he looked and looked and looked, and when he took the club away he ticked it. And he immediately came to me—I couldn’t see it. The wind was blowing, so I couldn’t see it against the sand. And he assured me that he ticked it when he took the club away. He called it on himself immediately.

CHRIS REIMER: The important thing on the discussion is the backswing, is that correct?


CHRIS REIMER: Will you state the rule number on that?

SLUGGER WHITE: 13.4. You can’t touch anything on the hazards, grounds or lose impediment.

Q. If it’s fixed you’re okay, but if it’s loose you’re not?

SLUGGER WHITE: Yeah, if it’s fixed—if it’s growing, yes. Grass, trees, anything like that.

Q. How about water?

SLUGGER WHITE: That’s a penalty there, too.

Q. You say you looked at the TV?

SLUGGER WHITE: Yeah. It was good, Mike Shea was in our trailer, and I guess they had a good shot of it. I couldn’t see it. And it showed it that he did.

Q. Is it only on the backstroke?

SLUGGER WHITE: Yes. The forward stroke is no problem. That’s the definition of a stroke, forward movement.

Q. So it was just the backstroke?


Q. We’ve heard stories through the year of football coaches who spy on other teams. Is that what makes golf so different, that Brian immediately saw that he might have done something wrong?

SLUGGER WHITE: Without a question. And that will come back to him in spades, tenfold. In fact he says, Jim, on the putting green, after it was all said and done, that—I don’t know if Jim said, are you sure? And he said, “I know I did. I could not have lived with myself, if I had not called it on myself.” He’s class, first class.

CHRIS REIMER: Slugger, thank you.

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2 thoughts on “Rules Official Slugger White On The Brian Davis Penalty Call”

  1. The following was copied from an article written by Pete Iacobelli for Sport Stuff.
    Brian did not actually call the penalty on himself. He asked Slugger for a ruling.

    Brian Davis called a two-stroke penalty on himself on the first playoff hole to hand Jim Furyk a victory at the Verizon Heritage.
    Davis, an Englishman who’s never won on the PGA Tour, used a birdie on the 72nd hole to force the extra hole. However, Davis’ approach rolled off the green of the lighthouse hole and into some rocks.
    As Davis attempted to chip on, his wedge moved a loose reed in the marshy area. Davis quickly called for a rules official, who after calling colleagues to check the replay, confirmed the penalty.
    “I thought I saw movement,” Davis said. “It’s a disappointment.”
    Davis conceded to Furyk before the world’s sixth-ranked player putted out.
    Furyk shot a 69 to finish at 13-under 271. The victory was his 15th PGA Tour win and second since March, earning him US$1.026 million (NZ$1.44m).
    Furyk was also disappointed the splendid duel between he and Davis at the end was spoiled by a rules violation.
    “To have the tournament come down that way is definitely not the way I wanted to win,” Furyk said. “It’s obviously a tough loss for him and I respect and admire what he did.”
    Davis nearly won in regulation, his approach to his final hole scaring the cup before settling 18 feet away. His birdie putt had just enough steam to drop in and force the extra hole.
    Instead of riding that momentum into the playoff, his second shot rolled off the side toward Calibogue Sound and rattled around the rocks before stopping on some hard-packed sand.
    That’s when Davis ended the drama with his self-imposed violation, something inconceivable in most other sports, where competitors take pride in getting every edge they can.
    Slugger White, the PGA Tour’s tournament director who administrated the penalty, said Davis’ actions were classy and appropriate for a sport based on honour.
    White said Furyk came to Davis after and asked he was sure it was a penalty. “I know I did it,” White recalled Davis’ response, “and I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t.”
    I had a problem with Slugger White’s imposed two stroke penalty on Brian Davis, because I thought you were not to suffer penalty, if you touched something in the hazard during your back swing or forward swing on the ball. I went to the rules to look it up and I think Slugger may have given the wrong decision.  The NOTE: after the third exception seems to imply that touching obstructions during the back swing is permitted without penalty.  Chuck Lipscomb
    13-4. Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions
    Except as provided in the Rules, before making a stroke at a ball that is
    in a hazard (whether a bunker or a water hazard) or that, having been
    lifted from a hazard, may be dropped or placed in the hazard, the
    player must not:
    a. Test the condition of the hazard or any similar hazard;
    b. Touch the ground in the hazard or water in the water hazard with
    his hand or a club; or
    c. Touch or move a loose impediment lying in or touching the hazard.
    1. Provided nothing is done that constitutes testing the condition of the
    hazard or improves the lie of the ball, there is no penalty if the player
    (a) touches the ground or loose impediments in any hazard or water in a
    water hazard as a result of or to prevent falling, in removing an obstruction,
    in measuring or in marking the position of, retrieving, lifting, placing or
    replacing a ball under any Rule or (b) places his clubs in a hazard.
    2. After making the stroke, if the ball is still in the hazard or has been
    lifted from the hazard and may be dropped or placed in the hazard,
    the player may smooth sand or soil in the hazard, provided nothing is
    done to breach Rule 13-2 with respect to his next stroke. If the ball is
    outside the hazard after the stroke, the player may smooth sand or soil
    in the hazard without restriction.
    3. If the player makes a stroke from a hazard and the ball comes to
    rest in another hazard, Rule 13-4a does not apply to any subsequent
    actions taken in the hazard from which the stroke was made.

    Note: At any time, including at address or in the backward movement
    for the stroke, the player may touch, with a club or otherwise, any
    obstruction, any construction declared by the Committee to be an integral
    part of the course or any grass, bush, tree or other growing thing.
    Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes.
    If slugger did in fact give the wrong decision, this is a tragedy because it may well have cost Brian the championship and a great deal of money.  Chuck Lipscomb


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