The PGA Tour announced Sunday at the Hero World Challenge that Collin Morikawa received a two-stroke penalty for a mistake during his third round. That result essentially took Morikawa out of any possible hopes of a miracle win.
He went from 10-under to 8-under through 54 holes, with Scottie Scheffler entering Sunday in the lead at 16-under par.
Morikawa played with Matt Fitzpatrick on Saturday. After the news broke on Sunday, it was reported that Fitzpatrick was the one who alerted the rules officials, according to Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis.
Stephen Cox, a PGA Tour rules staff member, joined the live broadcast after the Tour issued its statement to give a better understanding of how the rule was a breach.
“In this particular situation with Collin’s caddie JJ, I met with him, and he confirmed that he had a putting system, which is very common out here on Tour,” Cox said on air with Golf Channel. “Unfortunately, how he went about formulating that putting system and that chart — he used a device to obtain that on the practice putting green, the levels of slope.”
“Using a device is not a breach itself, but when you transfer that into your yardage book and then subsequently use that for green reading use, that’s when the breach occurred.”
Cox acknowledged that Model Local Rule G-11 was complicated because players and caddies have used handwritten notes for years. He explained how this is another fundamental skill the Tour wanted players and caddies to keep.
However, they only want them to have it if they do it traditionally and explained that they gave the governing bodies specific ways of how players can establish these notes.
He could have used the numbers if they were obtained through one of these ways by rolling out a ball on the green, using their feet, eyes, or watching someone else ball roll. Since it wasn’t obtained in one of these ways, it was a breach.
This rule was part of the 2022 change when the Tour put a restriction in place to retain the skill of reading greens.
Morikawa and his caddie weren’t aware of this nuance behind the rule, and thankfully, he only used this system on the fourth hole. Since it was a single occurrence, the penalty was assessed. Instead of a bogey on four, the two-time major winner recorded a triple-bogey.
The 2-time major champ would finish solo 7th at 10-under following a final round 68.
Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.