A pro playing just his second PGA Tour event in three-and-a-half years at this week’s Palmetto Championship has had a disaster.
Mark Hensby, 49, felt the full wrath of a little-known rule that saw his Thursday score of 74 rocket to an eye-watering 84.
It all went wrong for Hensby at the par-5 4th hole, where he fired his third shot into the water. He dropped, finished the hole and continued playing the next four holes before realising the error he had made.
“I asked my caddie, ‘Hey what's this dot on the ball? I've never noticed this before; did they do something with the new pro V1?’” Hensby told pgatour.com.
“And he didn’t know, so I asked my playing partners and they were like, ‘That's a low spin ball.’ Now I don't use this ball, so there was a lot of confusion where it came from – none of my others had the dot – but we knew I had played the wrong ball.”
The Australian called in senior tournament referee Mike Peterson and was assessed a two-stroke penalty for each hole in which he used the wrong ball under the Model Local Rule G-4.
Hensby later discovered that the erroneous ball belonged to Pat Perez, and had been swapped on the practice putting green.
“Somehow I picked up one of Pat’s balls and he ended up with one of mine,” he said. “I only found this out because Titleist wanted to get to the bottom of it. I thought they had a wrong ball in the sleeve that I had.
“If you look at both balls it's hard to know the difference,” he continued. “It's not like one is black and one is red. They're both black, but one has a small dot on it and one doesn't. Unfortunately, I didn't notice that. I’m glad he didn’t use mine.”
Prior to rule changes in 2019, playing a hole with the wrong ball carried a maximum penalty of four strokes but now is two-shots per hole.
Hensby made the decision to withdraw on Thursday following the incident, stating that he “knew the tournament was over,” for him.