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As if Pinehurst wasn’t serving up enough, there’s been some drama in the steward’s room at the US Open.

And it’s not going down well.

The USGA shoved a one-shot penalty in leading amateur Neal Shipley’s face after it was adjudged that the American cause his ball to move in controversial fashion.

It released a statement citing Rule 9.4, as first reported by Gabby Herzig of the Athletic.

“On the 13th hole of round 3, Neal Shipley’s second shot came to rest on the upslope short of the green,” the statement said.

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“In preparing to make the stroke, Neal set the club down behind the ball and then adjusted the club when the ball then moved.

“Because the ball had been at rest for some time and then moved immediately after he adjusted his club, it is virtually certain that he caused the ball to move.”

At the time, Shipley – who went viral at the Masters after an awkward Butler’s Cabin moment – held the lead on the amateur leaderboard in North Carolina.

However, the college star followed an eventual double on the 13th with bogeys on 15 and 16 to wrap up a respectable 71.

Before the penalty, he floated around the top ten but has since fallen back to T31, alongside fellow amateur Luke Clanton on +4.

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The pair are in the clubhouse and will scrap it out for low amateur honours, as the only other amateur to make the cut, Gunnar Broin, sits T73 on +14.

Meanwhile, the decision was quick to catch criticism on social media.

One user wrote: “I know it’s a temporary object and all that, but the break Aberg gets from such a terrible tee shot is beyond ridiculous. Meanwhile, Shipley gets a one-shot penalty because rock-hard ground made his ball wobble when he put his club down ahead of a chip.”

Another posted: “Virtually certain my @$$ – no benefit of the doubt here, huh? Moved a dimple, at most, and even that was AWAY from the hole. Bulls**t penalty.”

Take a look at the incident, here:


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John Turnbull A graduate of the University of Stirling, John joined the bunkered team in 2023 as a Content Producer, with a responsibility for covering all breaking news, tour news, grassroots content and much more besides. A keen golfer, he plays the majority of his golf at Falkirk Golf Club. Top of his 'bucket list' is a round of Pebble Beach... ideally in the company of Gareth Bale.

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