Famous Rulings at Torrey Pines
With the spotlight returning to the San Diego area for the 2021 U.S. Open, the Rules Crew revisits a few of the interesting rulings that have occurred at Torrey Pines through the years.
On Feb. 7, 1987, during the final round of the Shearson Lehman Brothers Andy Williams Open, SCGA Hall of Famer Craig Stadler hit his tee shot into a muddy lie beneath a famous Torrey pine tree adjacent to the 14th hole. To prevent his pants from getting muddy, Stadler laid down a towel to kneel on to play the shot.
Unfortunately, under the old Rule 13-3 (now Rule 3.3b) in effect at the time, a player was not allowed to build a stance, even to protect his pants from mud. Stadler was unaware that he had incurred the penalty of 2 strokes and was later disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. What is interesting is that under the Rules today (Rule 3.3b (3) Exception), Stadler would have only incurred a 2-stroke penalty and not been disqualified if the mistake was found before the close of the competition. Stadler got his revenge when the tree died in 1995 — at the invitation of the Century Club of San Diego, he came out with a chainsaw and took the tree down.
DON’ T LOOK FOR IT!
During the 2001 Buick Invitational, Phil Mickelson and Frank Lickliter arrived at the 17th tee for their third sudden-death playoff hole. Both players drove their tee shots left into the cliffs, and both players properly announced and played provisional balls into the middle of the fairway. As they made their way to their provisional shots, Lickliter found his ball on the cliffs, while Mickelson directed hole marshals not to look for his ball. As Mickelson was about to play his provisional from the fairway, however, a marshal found Mickelson’s first ball. Under the Rules, once a player’s ball is potentially found, the player must identify the ball, and if it is his, he must proceed with it and abandon the provisional ball. So, both players’ original balls were found and the provisional balls were abandoned.
Given the terrain of the cliffs, the only feasible option was for each player to declare his ball unplayable. In this case, though, the only practical relief option under the Ball Unplayable Option was to return to the tee under stroke and distance and play their third strokes. Mickelson went on to win after carding a 6 on the hole, while Lickliter three-putted for a 7. Note: At the time, the left side of Hole 17 was not marked as a lateral water hazard and was considered “through the green.” Today, the left the side of this hole is marked as a red penalty area.
SCORECARDS AND PLAYOFFS?
During the 2008 U.S. Open, Rocco Mediate and the 1994 SCGA Amateur Champion, Tiger Woods, were tied after 72 holes. As stated in the Condi-tions of Competition, there would be an 18-hole stroke-play playoff in the event of a tie. If the players were still tied, the playoff would become hole-by-hole sudden death. After both players shot 72 in the 18-hole playoff, a strange sight ensued: the USGA had both players sign and attest scorecards just off the 18th putting green.
There was a simple reason for this: The 18-hole playoff is still considered to be a “round” of golf under the Rules, and given the fact that it was stroke play, both players needed to document the other player’s hole-by-hole scores and make sure that the scorecard was signed by the player and the marker. Once verified by the committee, the 18-hole round was official, and they could proceed to the sudden-death playoff, which Woods won on the first hole with a par.
AFTER BOTH PLAYERS SHOT 72 IN THE 18-HOLE PLAYOFF, A STRANGE SIGHT ENSUED: THE USGA HAD BOTH PLAYERS SIGN AND ATTEST SCORECARDS JUST OFF THE 18TH PUTTING GREEN.