Jorge Campillo found himself on the side of a bizarre rules situation during the second round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship when his ball got wrapped up in a divot.
Playing the first hole (his tenth of the day), Campillo’s his tee shot managed to find itself wrapped under a divot on the fairway.
Unsure what to do in the exceptional circumstances, the Spaniard called for a rules official. Tournament Director Miguel Vidaor soon arrived to help, and described it as one of the most incredible situations he’s ever seen on the golf course.
“It was the most incredible situation I’ve seen in my entire career,” said Vidaor.
“I got called for a ruling on the first fairway. When I got there, Jorge Campillo was standing on the fairway and I got close to him and I said ‘Jorge, what’s the problem?’, because I couldn’t see any ball lying around.
“He said ‘Well, that’s my problem’, and the problem was his that ball had ended up wrapped in a divot from another competitor who had played previously.
“My first instinct was that it looked so artificial, someone must have put it on top on purpose, but obviously that wasn’t the case because there was no evidence to that. I spoke to the scorer, and he said he saw it all live, and what had happened was that the divot was left in an awkward position, and the ball went at the divot at speed, and the divot kind of wrapped the ball and ended up on top of it.
“Jorge had the divot in his line of play, so there was no way he could make contact with that ball as it was - he would have to hit four of five inches behind the ball.”
So what happens in that situation? Unfortunately for Campillo, there is no free relief, as it comes under the rules of moving a loose impediment (Rule 15.1a).
“The rule is very simple,” said Viador.
“The divot is a loose impediment. You can move it anywhere on the golf course, but if by moving the divot you move the ball, you get a penalty and have to replace the ball.”
As Vidaor explains further, Campillo felt that playing the ball as it lies under the divot would be similar to incurring a penalty stroke, so decided that he would attempt to remove the divot and try not to cause his ball to move.
“Jorge decided, because it was so bad – the amount of divot he had between the ball and the club - he thought this is like a penalty stroke, so I might as well take the risk of moving the divot and hopefully the ball won’t move.
“We went really close, and he grabbed it from both ends very carefully, millimetre by millimetre lifting it up. I said ‘Jorge that’s OK it’s not moving’, and eventually after about 15 seconds he managed to move it and the ball remained at rest.”
Campillo went on to make par on the hole, and would go on to card a one over-par 73.
The Rule Explained
Rule 15.1: Loose Impediments
A. Removal of Loose Impediment
You may remove a loose impediment without penalty anywhere on or off the course, and may do so in any way (such as by using your hand or foot or a club or other equipment).
B. Ball Moved When Removing Loose Impediment
If your removal of a loose impediment causes your ball to move, your ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated).
If your moved ball had been at rest anywhere except on the putting green or in the teeing area, you get one penalty stroke.