Nick Piastowski

January 22, 2023

Davis Thompson’s ball and Thompson on Sunday on the seventeenth gap on the Pete Dye Stadium Course.

With the pin in, Davis Thompson’s ball was out. 

But when the flagstick had been eliminated?

“I’ll in all probability play the ‘what-if’ recreation in my head for a very long time, sadly,” Thompson mentioned.

He might not be alone. In a stunning sequence throughout Sunday’s American Specific closing spherical, Thompson putted from 48 toes, 2 inches away for a share of the lead on the penultimate gap on the Pete Dye Stadium Course, just for his ball to strike the pin almost dead-center and ricochet a foot and a half previous. Ultimately, Jon Rahm maintained his one-stroke lead and gained by that margin, although the late change led to decision-making questions and a have a look at a brand new flagstick rule.

We’ll begin, although, with our starting, and whether or not the pin on the 159-yard, par-3 seventeenth was accountable. Thompson’s ball was transferring shortly — if it hadn’t hit something, our guess was it could have rolled perhaps 5 toes previous the outlet — and on a replay of the Golf Channel broadcast slowed to 1/16 velocity by, the ball appeared to strike the left-center of the pin. 

Two analysts, although, have been satisfied that Thompson’s putt was good. 

“If that pin is out, little doubt it goes in,” on-course announcer John Wooden, a former longtime caddie, mentioned on the printed. 

“It was proper within the middle,” mentioned John Cook dinner, a former longtime professional. “It doesn’t occur fairly often, however that pin value him proper there. No query in my thoughts, John. That was center-cut. It had some velocity, but it surely was proper within the middle.” 

And Thompson? Instantly afterward, he dropped his mallet putter, turned away from the outlet and coated his face with each fingers. He then propped up his white hat atop his head and rubbed his brow, earlier than circling round the fitting aspect of the inexperienced on his strategy to mark his ball.  

As Rahm was placing for his birdie — which he would miss — Thompson principally regarded towards the water fronting the inexperienced. 

“I had an important learn,” he mentioned afterward. “I in all probability hit it too agency. If it had nice velocity, it could have simply hit the flag and dropped. However we’ll by no means know.”

Jon Rahm will get a fortunate bounce, wins once more on the American Specific


Jack Hirsh

Did Thompson contemplate pulling the flag? Did he contemplate asking caddie Dean Emerson to have a tendency it? Within the session with reporters, Thompson was requested solely: “What was the concerns so far as leaving the stick in?”

It’s right here the place he additionally gave the “what-if” remark. 

“Yeah, I imply, I often at all times go away the stick in from a protracted distance,” Thompson mentioned. “I really feel prefer it helps me with my velocity.”

Then there’s this: Earlier than a 2019 guidelines change, the flagstick needed to come out; if a ball hit it, a participant would take a two-stroke penalty. 

Rule 13.2 a (1) now reads this fashion: “The participant could make a stroke with the flagstick left within the gap, in order that it’s potential for the ball in movement to hit the flagstick. The participant should determine this earlier than making the stroke, by both: Leaving the flagstick the place it’s within the gap or transferring it in order that it’s centered within the gap and leaving it there, or having a eliminated flagstick  put again within the gap.

And the rule for tending the flag? That’s addressed beneath Rule 13.2 b (1), which reads: “The participant could make a stroke with the flagstick faraway from the outlet, in order that his or her ball in movement won’t hit the flagstick within the gap. The participant should determine this earlier than making the stroke, by both: Having the flagstick faraway from the outlet earlier than taking part in the ball, or authorizing somebody to attend the flagstick, which suggests to take away it by: First holding the flagstick in, above or subsequent to the outlet earlier than and through the stroke to indicate the participant the place the outlet  is, after which eradicating the flagstick after the stroke is made.”

On the Golf Channel broadcast, Wooden identified the change, too. 

“Boy, I’m speechless over that,” he mentioned of the putt. “That rule, for the reason that change, you actually haven’t seen it have an effect on the golf event. I don’t bear in mind it occurring anyhow. That is the primary one the place I really feel like that rule change could have modified the end result.” 

Dave Pelz: The science proves it is best to go away the flagstick in whenever you putt


Dave Pelz

Robust phrases. However why was the change made? In response to a narrative on the USGA’s web site, it was meant to hurry up play — and not using a caddie, after all, a participant must take away the flagstick themselves, then putt. 

And that naturally raises this query: Is there a bonus to holding it in? At instances, people like Bryson DeChambeau and placing guru Dave Pelz have informed you sure — and in 2019, Pelz did right here — and others will say no. Notably, the USGA story additionally had this line:

“On steadiness it’s anticipated that there isn’t a benefit in with the ability to putt with the unattended flagstick within the gap: In some circumstances, the ball could strike the flagstick and bounce out of the outlet when it would in any other case have been holed, and in different circumstances, the ball could hit the flagstick and end within the gap when it would in any other case have missed.”

So what occurred after the seventeenth on Sunday?

Thompson nonetheless had an opportunity, after all; he remained only a stroke behind Rahm. However on 18, he hit over the inexperienced on his method, and an admirable effort to pitch in for birdie landed about 2 toes away, whereas Rahm parred.

Admirably, Thompson then talked to the reporters. He didn’t must. 

“I had an important week,” the 23-year-old from Georgia mentioned. “Competing towards the perfect on this planet is my dream and I did that as we speak and proved that I can grasp with ’em. It was a number of enjoyable.

“A number of nerves and I hit a number of high quality golf photographs beneath stress, which was actually cool.”

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Nick Piastowski Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at and Golf Journal. In his position, he’s liable for enhancing, writing and creating tales throughout the golf house. And when he’s not writing about methods to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native might be taking part in the sport, hitting the ball left, proper and brief, and consuming a chilly beer to clean away his rating. You’ll be able to attain out to him about any of those matters — his tales, his recreation or his beers — at [email protected]

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