Sergio Garcia used the rules of golf to his advantage during the final round of the BMW Championship. Perhaps, not as dubiously as Branden Grace at the BMW PGA Championship earlier this year, when he famously had his stance “affected” by a bunker liner. Or Charley Hoffman doing the same thing more recently on the PGA Tour.
If you’re just looking at the scorecard, you see a “5” filled in for Sergio Garcia’s score at the par-5 18th hole at Conway Farms during Sunday’s final round.
How he arrived at that score is not so cut-and-dried as a simple digit, however.
Garcia’s approach shot ended up well right of the green, technically inside a hazard, on the 585-yard hole.
What to do? Sergio Garcia spent several minutes plotting his course of action before calling rules official Stephen Cox over.
“I knew if I got good contact on it, it would pop up and probably go in the grandstand behind the green,” Garcia said of his eventual third shot. “We started looking at that.”
But how to get a lie where he could get contact? Garcia determined that a so-called moveable obstruction—in this case, the grandstand, was interfering with his shot.
Here’s what rules official Cox said.
““(If) the player’s ball lies in a water hazard, he would not get relief from an immovable obstruction for like a sprinkler head,” Cox said. “We have very large structures which are situated very close to the water hazard which ordinarily wouldn’t be there, so the rules allow a player to get relief when his ball lies in a water hazard.””
Thus, it was determined after much deliberation and a much time passed that Garcia could take a drop so that (theoretically) the grandstand wasn’t interfering, but really so he could get a better lie.
Adding more time to the ordeal, Garcia took a drop, but the ball ended up closer to the hole. No good. He had to redrop. Same thing. Thus, the Spaniard was allowed to place his ball in the hazard. Not surprisingly, he set it ever so gently on the peak of a little rock mountain, effectively teeing the ball up.
Finally, Garcia played his third shot, which clattered off the grandstand on the opposite side of the green and finished in the rough. He pitched onto about five feet from the hole and made the putt for par.
Here’s what the incident looked like on video (don’t worry it’s condensed from the original 30 minutes of spectacle).
Even better for Sergio, the par ensured he finished inside the top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings. Thus, he’ll be in the field at East Lake next week in line for a massively bigger payday than what he’d have been granted had he finished, say 32nd.
What does that difference look like? Last year, the No.32 finisher (who, interestingly enough, was Sergio Garcia) earned a bonus of $155,000. The No.20 finisher, which Garcia could be if he plays well at East Lake, earned $225,000.
In other words, Garcia’s savvy utilization of the Rules of Golf could be worth $70,000. Do you think he cares about holding up play for half an hour? Not a chance.
And while there are plenty of stories about Garcia holding up play…30-minute ruling, etc. Ask yourself this: If you had to inconvenience your coworkers for 30 minutes to earn an extra $70,000, would you do it?
Damn right you would.
A final note, and this is neither here nor there, but an interesting point of contrast. Garcia’s ruling came on the same day that Wesley Bryan, playing as a single and with no hope of making the Tour Championship, decided to play speed golf. He got around Conway Farms in one hour and 29 minutes.