Ball moved, Collin Morikawa and the 6th hole

. During last year's edition, one such incident caused quite a stir, and the keenest observers may recall what happened to Collin Morikawa on the putting green at the 6th hole during the first round

by Andrea Gussoni
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Ball moved, Collin Morikawa and the 6th hole
© Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images Sport

The Masters week is always filled with excitement and interesting situations. During last year's edition, one such incident caused quite a stir, and the keenest observers may recall what happened to Collin Morikawa on the putting green at the 6th hole during the first round.

Morikawa had replaced his ball on the green, but before he could make his stroke, the ball moved. During the live TV broadcast, some viewers noticed that the player had replaced the ball a few centimeters in front of the ball marker, only to then move the same marker immediately behind the ball.

Collin Morikawa, results

The video quickly spread across the web, sparking a debate among armchair pundits. But what really happened? To clarify the situation, let's talk about Rule 13.1, which allows the player to do certain things that are normally not permitted outside the putting green, such as: Marking, lifting, cleaning, and replacing a ball;
Repairing damage caused by anyone or any outside influence;
Removing loose impediments and movable obstructions;
Replacing a ball moved by natural forces (only if it was already marked and lifted previously).

But back to Morikawa's situation, whom I also had the fortune to officiate during the Ryder Cup in Rome. On TV, it wasn't apparent that Morikawa's ball had moved after being marked, lifted, and correctly replaced. Rule 13.1d(2) states that "if natural forces cause a player's ball to move on the putting green, the spot where the player must play from next depends on whether the ball was already lifted and replaced on the putting green: Ball Already Lifted and Replaced: The ball must be replaced on the spot from which it moved (which if not known must be estimated), even if it was moved by natural forces and not by the player, opponent, or an outside influence.

Ball Not Yet Lifted and Replaced: The ball must be played from its new spot (as it would in any other area of the course)." It's clear, therefore, that Morikawa, having already lifted the ball, followed the correct procedure and replaced the ball on the spot from which it moved.

The player himself also clarified the "mystery" of the marker's movement: "When I addressed the ball, it moved, so I randomly placed the marker on the ground, replaced the ball on the original spot from which it moved, and then properly marked it." He then humorously added, "I always play by the rules, I swear!" In essence, it's useful to remember that when a ball on the green has already been marked and lifted, this action "fixes forever" that spot on the ground, so whatever happens, the ball must always be replaced there.

This rule has been modified over the years; in the past, once the ball was replaced, it had to be played from its new spot. There have been situations in which a marked, lifted, and replaced ball on the green ended up in a penalty area after a gust of wind, and the player had to then drop with a penalty!

Collin Morikawa
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