Written by Staff Writer
Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson could miss next week’s Australian Open after being hit with two-shot penalties for misplacing their tees at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia on Thursday.
If the incident goes unpunished, it will bring an unfortunate end to the careers of world number one Spieth and fourth-ranked Stenson, both who are past Australian Open winners.
The pair, along with Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia and Brooks Koepka, were asked for their signed equipment contracts at the start of the second round at Kuala Lumpur’s TPC Kuala Lumpur.
This is where things got complicated.
After Stenson and Spieth’s signed signatures were returned by tournament officials, their spot where they were supposed to stand and tee off was replaced by a trio of players teeing off in the ninth hole.
Stenson’s tee time was moved up from the ninth hole to the fourth, while Spieth’s was moved up from the ninth to the seventh hole.
Rule 13-2(c) refers to a situation in which players remain at the original hole from which they were required to sign an equipment contract, but that hole has been changed.
‘Should be hilarious’
Rule 13-4(a) relates to any collision between a tee or a green (with proper balls) when a player’s playing position is changed.
“I should hope I got off lightly, I would love to,” Stenson told reporters after finishing the second round in a tie for 19th place on four under par, eight shots behind leader Brendon De Jonge.
“I think there’s been a number of incidents this year where we’ve had arguments — it would be nice to somehow resolve them like we have here. I guess it is a bit of coincidence to have the (equipment) contracts at the same time.”
The most recent example came in July, when Rory McIlroy conceded a hole-in-one at the Irish Open after an equipment deal happened on the second green of the first hole, on which McIlroy was teeing off.
“Maybe that should be hilarious,” former European Tour chief referee Andy McFee told Sky Sports after Stenson was hit with a two-shot penalty.
Both players have a week to respond to the penalty notice, which McFee told the Golf Channel should not be a problem.
“The world’s been full of stuff but to have this two-shot penalty — for him, really — seems to be quite a negligible affect,” he said.
With criticism coming from across the sporting world, in addition to the experienced referees, world number two Spieth said: “I just haven’t seen that before.”
“Obviously the guys aren’t doing their jobs if they aren’t spotting it, they need to look at it more and report it.
“It’s a little off, but I can’t imagine that happening in many situations, if ever.”