JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Golf’s sometimes maddening rule book caught up with Jordan Spieth on Saturday at the Presidents Cup, where he was forced to concede a hole in match play when he stopped an opponent’s moving ball on the green at Liberty National.
Louis Oosthuizen‘s chip for eagle-2 on the 12th hole had sped well past the cup, and since the next stroke would not have mattered — Oosthuizen’s partner, Jason Day, already had been conceded his birdie putt — Spieth stopped the ball as it was moving to give it back to Oosthuizen.
The match referee, Andy McFee of the European Tour, immediately ruled that Spieth had committed a violation by stopping an opponent’s moving ball while in play.
The violation in question was Rule 1-2, which means a loss of hole in match play.
Spieth and even Oosthuizen argued the common sense nature of the situation: Oosthuizen’s ball was not going in the hole, and Day’s birdie already had been conceded. So instead of Spieth and Patrick Reed attempting their birdie putts to try and tie the hole, McFee ruled that the hole had been conceded.
Tiger Woods, the U.S. assistant captain, tried to intervene on their behalf, and Spieth argued his case, but the ruling stood.
By the letter of the law, McFee asserted that the ball could have still come back toward the cup — even though it was moving downhill and away from the hole when Spieth picked it up.
Spieth and Reed went 1-down at the time but rallied to win the match 2 and 1 and improve their record at the Presidents Cup to 3-0-1. The tandem is now 8-1-3 overall going back to the 2014 Ryder Cup.