Rickie Fowler took a one-shot penalty during Friday’s round at the WGC-Mexico Championship for an illegal shoulder-height drop.
It’s a new rule this year and while a lot of attention has been paid to all the new rules, sometimes old habits die hard.
Fowler had shanked his second shot out of bounds on the 10th hole and when it came time to drop, instead of doing so from the knee, as the new rules calls for, Fowler held his right arm straight out and dropped his ball from shoulder height.
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His caddie Joe Skovron missed the infraction, too. At the moment Fowler was dropping, Skovron had his attention on Fowler’s bag and did not see the infraction.
Patrick Reed, playing in Fowler’s group, said someone mentioned to him that Fowler dropped from shoulder height. Fowler said Reed didn’t say who mentioned it. When Reed mentioned it to Fowler, Fowler knew right away he had committed the error.
“I know I didn’t drop properly, but just going through the natural kind of progression of what you do with the drop, that’s just what you’re used to,” he said after his round. “I have done that for 30 years. Well, I guess not that long. I started playing at two, so 28. So, yeah, got an extra shot on that.”
Fowler ended up with a triple-bogey seven on that hole. He responded with birdies on the next two holes but finished with a second-round 73.
According to a report on Golf Channel, Fowler addressed the issue with a rules official, who notified him of a one-stroke penalty.
Had Fowler or Skovron caught the error before hitting the next shot, Fowler could have dropped again from knee height without incurring a penalty. But because Fowler played on after the shoulder-height drop, he was slapped with the one-shot foul.
“I think, with the new rules that have been put in place, it’s not doing any favors for our sport. I think it will definitely be changed,” he said. “We have been making fun of the knee drop for so long that it was ingrained the first time I took a drop this year. Like, ‘This is an iconic moment. I get to drop from my knee and look stupid.’ So, no, like I said, it was on me, but I think it’s a terrible change.”
Earlier this month at TPC Scottsdale, Fowler was the victim a different of penalty, after his ball rolled into the water off the 11th green, leading to a penalty stroke.
Later in the round, Rory McIlroy went into the water on No. 6 and was in the drop zone, where he dropped from shoulder height.
But with his caddie Harry Diamond looking on, McIlroy caught himself and re-dropped from knee height before hitting his next shot, avoiding a one-stroke penalty.
The WGC-Mexico Championship is a no-cut event, which continues over the week at Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico City.