Will, or Willy, depending on your purview, Wilcox departed the Wells Fargo Championship in the latest bizarre rules-related incident on golf’s professional circuits.
If you were following on with the tournament action, you know the second round was suspended due to weather and resumed Saturday morning.
Wilcox was three over par with five holes left in his second round when he returned to Eagle Point. Unhappy with his putting, he decided to put another putter in play for his Saturday play to see if he could jumpstart his work on the greens.
Of course, you can’t do that. Per the Rules of Golf, a club can only be replaced mid-round if it’s damaged. This occurred to Wilcox at some point after he took the course, and he reported the infraction to the PGA Tour rules official.
The official told him he was disqualified and Wilcox left the course.
“Made an oops. Changed putters mid round, over night. That’s a DQ. Called self on it,” Wilcox tweeted.
But that wasn’t the end of the matter.
“We talked about it and realized it shouldn’t have been a disqualification,” said Mark Russell, vice president for rules and competitions for the Tour. Instead, Wilcox should have been hit with a four-stroke penalty (two strokes per hole for a maximum of four).
The Tour called Wilcox to explain, and he tweeted
“It was a [four-stroke penalty] after I was told it was a DQ. If they would’ve gotten it right I would’ve been 5 [strokes] off cut with 4 to play.”
Of course, if his putter had been damaged (as long as it wasn’t through his agency), he would have been able to switch putters. But, as the reason for the switch was performance-related, Wilcox was left with no recourse but to suffer the penalty.
And even more unfortunate, check out this tweet.
@legolf68 i know it! This is the 1st time I’ve ever had more than one at an event with me.. oh well! Dallas n 2 weeks.
— Willy Wilcox (@willwilcoxgolf) May 6, 2017
But forgetting about your feelings about whether a player should be able to change equipment mid-round, how about the ridiculousness of the fact that the PGA Tour rules official(s) couldn’t dole out the appropriate penalty.
Obviously, not a good look for the PGA Tour, but also more bad press for the USGA and Rules of Golf. If the professionals charged with administering the rules apply them correctly, isn’t that extremely problematic?