Chief referee: “Nothing we could do” in DeChambeau-Pieters gaffe

Pieters Bryson

The fallout from the Thomas Pieters/Bryson DeChambeau rules gaffe is continuing after a top rules official claimed there was “nothing” they could do to avoid the situation.

On Wednesday Pieters was denied a free drop for his ball being on a sprinkler head as a red hazard line was touching it – but DeChambeau was granted one a short time later when he found himself in an identical situation.

DeChambeau, who halved his match with Richard Bland, later admitted he “felt bad” for Pieters, who fortunately was not too badly affected as he still managed to beat Tom Hoge at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

But the event's chief referee Gary Young was still called upon on Thursday to explain what had happened.

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"Obviously match play, each match is its own individual story; let's call it that,” he said.

"To me, two wrongs don't make a right. To make the correction before Bryson's match got there was important.

"When we heard about the original ruling, the way the penalty area is marked, the line - and as you look at them out on the golf course, the line kind of goes around each sprinkler head, keeping it in the general area of the golf course, not in the penalty area. That play a player is always going to get relief.

"When the golf course was marked, the line got a little bit closer. Obviously there's a lot of wind when you're making these golf courses. The line got a little too close to it. The official who ruled on it was going based on what he was looking at, okay.

"Obviously the intention was to keep them all outside. But when he was looking at it, he ruled on it based on the fact that that red line was technically touching both the ball and the sprinkler head.

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"At that time I don't want to say he ruled incorrectly because I think he ruled based on what he was looking at. It then got brought to our attention. We talked about it as a committee and felt very firmly, two wrongs don't make a right. We've got to correct this because clearly it should be outside.

"As they were down, on their way down there with some paint to correct the line, Bryson's situation came up. He called me on the phone and asked -- he said, I've got the same situation. Now that I know the intention was to have it outside the penalty area, are you comfortable with me ruling on it that way, and I said, yes, I want you to rule on it that way because we're about to change the marking on it.

"There was nothing we could do to fix the Thomas Pieters situation. It was over with. But just to get it right was important.”

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