So this might be a first.
On Saturday evening Justin Rose was assessed a two-stroke penalty for an apparent oscillation of his ball on the 18th hole of his third round.
Here's a look:
On Sunday that penalty was rescinded and Rose went from 5 under to 7 under before ever teeing off.
USGA Rule 18/4 provides the reasoning -- this was the rule that was put in place after the Tiger Woods incident that was caught on HD film at the BMW Championship in 2013 where his ball moved and he thought it oscillated.
"When the player's ball has left its original position and come to rest in another place by an amount that was not reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time, a player's determination that the ball has not moved will be deemed to be conclusive, even if that determination is later shown to be incorrect through the use of sophisticated technology."
The key there is "even if that determination is later shown to be incorrect through the use of sophisticated technology." Essentially, you can't be punished just because an HD camera picked up the ball moving.
The PGA Tour's statement on the final Rose decision backed this up:
"Overnight, given the fact that Decision 18-4 had been implemented in January of 2014, yet had not been utilized in PGA TOUR competition, the Rules Committee reopened the incident and focused on how much the use of sophisticated technology played a part in making the original ruling. After that review, it was determined that the only way to confirm whether and how much the ball had in fact changed position, was to utilize sophisticated technology."
The part about this that concerns me is how subjective it is. What is too much usage of sophisticated technology? What is not enough? That's a moving target over time.
And how in the world did you not know you were utilizing sophisticated technology when this was happening on Saturday night?!
Look at this quote from Brian Wacker of PGATour.com on the original Rose ruling:
"But after more than 30 minutes of looking at it from multiple broadcast feeds in three different trucks -- including one from Sky Sports after European Tour rules official David Probyn phoned in while watching on Sky Sports in Europe -- officials determined that the ball did move."
And this from Rose:
"'It literally took zoom in, the whole screen got fragmented, the golf ball was more like a hexagon at this point,' he said, holding a blade of grass in his hand. 'If it moved (the width of the blade of grass) that's all it moved, but there was a wobble on the screen. Under 50 times magnification in the truck maybe the ball moved a quarter of a dimple toward the toe of the club, which, obviously, if the ball moved, it moved and I get assessed an extra stroke penalty.'"
I'm pretty sure that's sophisticated technology!
Rose probably won't win (despite effectively eagleing the practice range) but if he does this is going to be messy.
And you can bet that as cameras produce higher definition telecasts and technology advances, this will come up again in a bigger spot than the third round of the Players Championship.