Matt Kuchar has defended himself after critics, including Jack Nicklaus, claimed he tried to bend the rules during the Memorial Tournament on Thursday.
Kuchar’s drive onto the fairway on the 17th landed on the edge of a pre-made pitch mark, which both the American and PGA rules official Robby Ware agreed was already in place.
Under current rules, golfers are entitled to a free drop from their own pitch mark, but have to play the ball as it lies if it lands in one that had been made previously.
However, Kuchar believed he could have been entitled to some relief, and called over another official for a second opinion, even jokingly asking for a third after the initial decision was upheld, with playing partner Rickie Fowler standing by the officials.
Kuchar eventually parred the hole and stood firm in response to criticism he received on social media after the incident.
“I guess it’s not a new embedded ball if it breaks new ground,” Kuchar told a press conference after returning to the clubhouse with a one-over 73.
“When looking at the replay I saw in the [camera], it looked like there was potential that it might have broken new turf.
“I heard it bounced in there and thought there was potential that it might had broken ground again. That was my question, was that a new pitch, is that a new potential embedded ball.
“The rules officials, they know the rules a lot better than I do. I thought there was potential that it might have broken additional ground and is that a new embedded ball. I’m not sure, and that’s why we have the rules officials.
“I’m certainly satisfied with making a [par] there. I like to think things work out the way they’re supposed to. Making four there is all I can ask for.”
You can barely see his shoes in that rough.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 30, 2019
Kuchar has been no stranger to controversy in recent months, having apologised in February for not agreeing to pay a temporary caddie in full after his victory in the Mayakoba Golf Classic in November.
Tournament host Nicklaus told CBS: “That is the most amusing thing I’ve ever seen someone try to get a ruling on.”