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March 11, 2005

Tony Wallin


JOE CHEMYCZ: Just to make it official, Tony Wallin, our advance rules official, is here to discuss the DQ of Briny Baird. Maybe just let us know what the rule was and when you found out about it.

TONY WALLIN: Okay. Yesterday as you know we played preferred lies. There 2003, the USGA at our rules meetings at the end of 2003 wanted to express their, I don't know if you can call it -- they were pushing for us to adopt new verbiage that they had come up with since they were going to take a stance on preferred lies for the first time in the history of the Rules. They came up with wording, and they asked basically all of the Tours to adopt their wording if the preferred lies rule is used.

Previous to 2004 when we played preferred lies, the player could pick up his ball, clean it, move it with his club head, several different things that he could do. One of the things was that we put on our rules sheet when we do that, we always publish a notice to let the players know what the rule is for; that the preferred lies were one of the things we stated on there was the ball is not in play until the player made a stroke at the ball.

So in other words, the player could place a ball, and as long as he had not addressed it or made a stroke, he could then maybe change his mind and move it to a different spot within that club length that he moved it.

Q. Does the tee still have to be in the ground?

TONY WALLIN: Back then it was kind of shaky as to whether it had to be.

So in 2004, with the urging of the USGA, we adopted their new verbiage which is what we give to all the players on the tee when we play preferred lies now. And the change basically says that "a player may place his ball only once and is in play when it has been placed," under Rule 20-4. "If the ball fails to come to rest on that spot, then Rule 20-3 applies."

But basically what it did is once that player picked it up, had it cleaned and placed it within that one club length, the ball was now back in play. So there was no picking it up again or anything like that.

And what that did is the USGA's mind, it cleared it up so that there was -- if anything happened after that ball was placed, there was no gray area anymore. If the ball moved after the player addressed it, there was a penalty. If the ball moved or fell off of that piece of grass, so to speak, and the player didn't do anything that caused it to move, and the wind or whatever, if wind moved it, he'd play it where it lied. There were things to make it more in line with the Rules of Golf because that's what the USGA likes to have is their rules lined up with golf, and that's why they would not take a stance on preferred lies prior to 2004. That's just a little history for it.

The other thing is if a player fails to mark the position of a ball before lifting and moves the ball in any other manner, such as rolling over the club, he incurs a penalty of one stroke. And that was also added because prior to that, he didn't have to mark it and he could roll it around with his club head and things like that. And then of course the penalty is stated on here, penalty for a breach of the rule in match-play is loss of hole, stroke-play is two strokes.

So, that leads to us what happened yesterday. Now that you kind of understand, any questions on the rule as we have it now?

Okay. What happened yesterday, and we were not aware of it until this morning, I got a phone call from Briny. Briny says, "I need to see you on the practice range." I drive down to the practice range and Briny says, "Let me show you something." And he then proceeded to put his ball down on the practice tee, marked it with his tee, picked it up, handed it to his caddie. His caddie cleaned it handed it back to Briny, Briny just kind of put it on the ground. I mean, he placed it on the ground and then he kind of said to his caddie, "What's the yardage? "Caddie says 150.

Briny then reached down, picked up the ball, found the little patch of grass that he liked and put it on that patch of grass. He said, "Is there any problem with what I just did?"

And of course, I said, "Well, yeah, you placed it more than once."

He says, "Okay. Well, that's kind of what I thought." He says, "I wasn't aware of that until yesterday," when Jay Williamson, his fellow competitor, on the ninth hole which was their 18th hole, told him that what he was doing there, he didn't technically didn't think that was the right way to proceed under the preferred lies rule.

Briny was going to bring it to our attention at that point but some other things happened that he just kind of got sidetracked and distracted and he forgot to call me last night is what happened. So that's why he called first thing this morning to make sure that, you know, find out if what he did was either right or wrong.

So after discussing it with Slugger White, the tournament director and our whole staff, the whole rules committee here at the Honda Classic, we were all in agreement that what Briny did was a violation of this rule.

So, what happened yesterday is each time Briny would have done that, he would have incurred a penalty of two strokes. Briny says he knows he did it more than once. He's not sure the exact number of times he did it. Might have been three, might have been five, might have been six. He said says, "I know for a fact I did it more than once."

Basically, that's irrelevant because now the fact that he did it once, incurred a two-stroke penalty and did not sign a score card, which included that penalty or those penalties that he had incurred; therefore, he signed an incorrect score card and is disqualified for that fact, signing an incorrect score card for not applying a penalty that was incurred in the round yesterday.

Q. Jay was saved having to actually turn him in then; Briny called you guys?

TONY WALLIN: Right. I don't know that -- I don't really know, you know, what goes through the players' minds. But Jay just made Briny aware of it knowing that Briny would do the right thing and would contact one of us and find out if what he did was or was not within the rules.

And Briny, see, because we played it so many years the other way, in Briny's mind, he wasn't doing anything wrong. He had forgotten basically, that, you know, we were now doing it a different way. He remembered the part about not moving the club head, but he did not remember about not being able to place it more than once.

Q. They were handed out?

TONY WALLIN: Every player received a copy of this. We made sure that the starter on 1 and 10 physically put this in the hand of each player. I mean, that's one of the things, whenever we play this rule, we tell them, make sure that you physically hand it. And if the player says I don't want it, give it to him anyway and tell him he needs to read it.

When we first changed this rule and adopted this new verbiage in 2004, what we did the first, probably, I don't know -- seems to me like we did it most of the year. I know at least the first four or five tournaments that we played preferred lies in, we had the starters basically read this to them, read it to the players so that they would make sure that they understood and have any questions they could ask them right then and there.

You know that, first year, because we played it the other way so long, we didn't want anybody to get trapped into saying, "oh, my gosh, I didn't know it." And now after a year, we figure we hand them the sheet, they have done it for a year, and most likely they will take a look at the sheet and refresh their memory.

Like I say, Briny, he remembered the part about not moving it with the club head, but he totally forgot about only being able to place it once.

Q. Since the new verbiage, is this the first time you had a situation like this?

TONY WALLIN: I can't recall. I mean, this is the first, being I believe this is the first disqualification due to signing an incorrect score card due to this penalty. I don't believe it's the first time the penalty -- I think we've had a case where the player realized that he had done it and added strokes, but this is the first time where we've had it come to light the next day where the player was actually disqualified for that.

Q. Some players out there say it's a very hard rule, because your hand touches it, it moves and it's kind of a nebulous rule; is this something you guys are looking into?

TONY WALLIN: I'm sure this will be added to our discussion now at THE PLAYERS Championship. We had planned on having a pretty big discussion about this at THE PLAYERS Championship, and now we've got some added things to discuss because, I mean some, questions that came out of this regarding -- we had an incident yesterday where a caddie, we had a ruling called on 15. I think it was 15 off the green and Steve Rintoul took the ruling, I believe, and the player had given his ball to the caddie to clean now and the caddie placed it. So now the player wanted to know if the ball was in play and that was where he had to play it from.

Well, the rule states that the player must place it; the caddie can't place it. So that ball was not in play and that a situation, the player himself must place it.

Q. Who was that?

TONY WALLIN: You'd have to ask Steve Rintoul. I don't know who the player was. I didn't ask him.

Q. But they didn't get a penalty for that?

TONY WALLIN: No. Because in that case, because it's not -- the ball the caddie can't put the ball in play; the player must put it in play. So the player has to place it.

Q. If he would have played the shot then --

TONY WALLIN: If the player would have played the shot that the caddie placed, he would have been under penalty; that's correct.

Q. So if Briny had handed the ball to his caddie, caddie cleaned it off and the caddie had tossed it to the ground, no harm, no foul?

TONY WALLIN: Different story. Or had Briny put his ball on the ground ahead of his tee, which is not a place that he's allowed to play it from, he can pick it up and then place it correctly prior to playing his stroke. Or had Briny placed it more than a club length away from where his tee was, same thing. Because the ball, that's not where you can play from so then he could have picked it up and placed it under the rule, the lift, clean and place rule.

Q. If Briny had forgotten about it and this had been in play all year and all of last year, is it possible that he could have been violating it this whole time without knowing it and are there any ramifications if that is the case?

TONY WALLIN: He obviously didn't know the rule. So you can't be penalized for something that you unknowingly were doing; if you knowingly have violated the rule, and in that case, that can come back to haunt you or get you so to speak.

But if it's something that you unknowingly do -- Tom Watson, back when I was playing the Tour, won the U.S. Open I think it was that one year at Pebble, and it was discovered then that his grooves were illegal in his Ram clubs. He didn't know that. So the fact that he was playing with clubs that had illegal grooves unknowingly, you can't come back and take his U.S. Open victory away from it. Now, had he known those grooves were illegal, different story. You give the prize money back and whoever finished second, finished first.

The same, the USGA in the rules workshops a lot of times use the example of if Jack Nicklaus in all of his events done something knowingly that violated the rules, which we all know Jack wouldn't do, they can be taken away. But it has to be something the player knew and somebody knew that he knew type of deal.

If it's a deal where the player has no idea he's violating the rule, which obviously Briny had no clue he was violating that rule, everything that's happened in the past, that's no foul. But from now on, however, different story.

JOE CHEMYCZ: Thanks, Tony.

End of FastScripts.

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