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The year is almost over but it turns out there’s still time for a bit more drama on the golf course. Just ask Collin Morikawa

The two-time major winner was assessed a two-shot penalty at the Hero World Challenge stemming from a rules infraction on the fourth hole of his third round at the Albany resort.

According to the PGA Tour, the 2021 Open champion violated Model Local Rule G-11, which prohibits players from using green-reading materials other than their pre-approved yardage book.

According to chief referee Stephen Cox, the American’s caddie Jonathan Jakovac used a level on the practice putting green to calculate the slope of the surface.

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That formula was then reportedly written into Morikawa’s yardage book and used on the fourth green, triggering the violation and two-shot penalty.

Adding a wrinkle to the matter, Matt Fitzpatrick – part of the winning European Ryder Cup team that defeated Morikawa and his US colleagues at Rome two months ago – was the person who reported the violation to Cox on Saturday evening,

Cox mt with Jakovac on Sunday morning, who confirmed the use of the formula was isolated just to the fourth hole of the third round. Morikawa was informed of the violation and penalty shortly before he began his fourth and final round.

“This is a very complicated issue,” Cox told “We respect the traditional methods of people wanting to have notes in their yardage book. That is something that’s been going on for many years.

“And obviously, when we drafted this Model Local Rule we wanted to protect that. Some players and caddie take more notes than others.

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“We were very specific in that these handwritten notes needed to be obtained through traditional methods to protect the fundamental skill of reading greens within our sport.

“If he had gone there using traditional methods and estimated with his feet or other means the percentages of slope on that practice putting green, 1%, 1.5% or 2% to gauge the amount of break on a particular length of putt, that chart or formula that the caddie has devised would be fine.”

He added: “It comes down to use of this handwritten note. Because he used it for assessing the putt during his third round then he was assessed a two-stroke penalty.

“Fortunately, that is the only time the player or caddie has accessed that information and on that basis, the breach remained at two strokes.”

Cox added that Morikawa was “very frustrated” when the breach was brought to his attention.

His third round score was adjusted from a 68 to a 70, leaving him eight shots behund 54-hole leader Scottie Scheffler.


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Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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