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Branden Grace was forced to defend himself following his first round of the BMW PGA Championship after a controversial drop in a bunker on the 13th hole.
The South African, who posted a four-under-par 68 in the opening round at Wentworth, found his ball in the sand and started twisting his feet before calling in a rules official.
Grace said his feet were touching the rubber lining underneath the sand and he couldn’t take a proper stance and, as a result, got a free drop.
However, some of his fellow competitors at the tournament weren’t too impressed.
Among them, Danny Willett, whose former caddie Jonathan Smart is now on the bag of seven-time European Tour winner Grace.
@EuropeanTour please explain that drop?! Burying feet enough in to get to the base of the bunker???— Danny Willett (@Danny_Willett) May 25, 2017
Daniel Brooks, who opened with a two-under-par 70, also questioned the ruling.
Wow strangest drop I've ever seen there— Daniel Brooks (@dbrooksgolf) May 25, 2017
And some punters watching at home were fuming at what they’d witnessed.
Sure it's within the rules but Branden Grace's drop out of a plugged lie in bunker looks very dodgy. Pampered pros. #BMWPGAChampionship— scranmerchant (@scranmerchant) May 25, 2017
Can't believe the free drop I've just seen Branden Grace get from a plugged lie in a bunker... I'll be claiming that from now if he got one!— Stuart Archibald (@stuartarchibald) May 25, 2017
Branden Grace taking the mick there at Wentworth @EuropeanTour— Patrick Connolly (@pa_connors) May 25, 2017
On commentary, Paul McGinley also joined in the criticism of the South African. “It was ridiculous,” he said. “If you twist your feet enough you’re bound to eventually reach the bunker lining.
“That means anytime a player wants relief from a poor lie he can simply twist his feet until he reaches the bunker lining. That can’t be right.”
Grace, however, defended his actions afterwards at the Sky Cart with Nick Dougherty.
“I got a plugged lie,” he said. “In my stance, my feet were touching the material underneath. I couldn’t get the grip so I kept slipping. I asked the rules official if it was a scenario and he said ‘Yes, I was correct’, so fortunately for me it worked out that time.”
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