PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Keegan Bradley got screwed, plain and simple.
Bradley played one of the best rounds of the day in Saturday’s treacherous weather conditions and shot 71, except that 71 should have been a 69.
He was penalized two shots when he marked his ball but left the ball on the green, it moved and he didn’t replace it. One of golf’s many ridiculous rules that should be modified.
Facing an eagle putt from 70 feet on the 16th hole, Bradley marked his ball. A taste of wind moved the ball but not the marker. After it came to rest, Bradley retrieved the ball and placed it ahead of his original mark.
But according to a provision under Rule 13.1 D, Bradley was supposed to play from the ball’s new location after the taste of wind. It cost him the two-shot penalty, and he three-putted and ended up with double-bogey seven.
“I guarantee most of the entire field thought the USGA changed the rule to simplify it — put your coin down, that’s where your ball is,” Bradley said. “So put my coin down, the ball moved, a huge taste of wind came up. I looked at the guys in my group and we all said, ‘Yep, the coin was down first, all good.’
“[I] didn’t think about it again until [the rules official] came up and spoke to me on No. 2. [I’m] proud of the way I handled that because that was tough news, especially with some tough holes in front of me.”
Bradley called the round “one of my best rounds of my life.”
“This is as tough as golf as you’re ever going to play,” he said. “This is a course you want to play under no [adverse] conditions because of how tough the shots are. And to play in this wind, to play like that, that was really, really a special round.
Usually, on difficult days like Saturday, you hear players moaning about the course set-up. Last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, for example, there was a lot of grousing about the difficult set-up at Bay Hill.
On Saturday, after brutal day of rain and wind, players praised the PGA Tour for the fair way in which is set up the course.
“I will say this: All tours should consult with the PGA Tour on how to set up golf courses,” Chesson Hadley said. “They do an absolutely amazing job, and they did so today. I think the Tour did a great job setting it up.”
Asked if it was unfair, Rory McIlroy said, “No, it’s not, because it was so soft. It was fine. The ball was staying. Very tough conditions, but it was fair.”
Sam Ryder said, “I think it’s fair enough. They moved a couple of tees around, so it makes it a little more manageable.”
Cameron Young, the PGA Tour rookie from Scarborough who plays out of Sleepy Hollow, is going to miss the cut in his first Players Championship after shooting 71-77 and standing 4-over-par. The cut is even-par entering Sunday’s completion of the second round.
Several players were asked what they think a 10 handicapper would have shot in the Saturday conditions.
“They’d be lucky to finish,” Kevin Kisner said. “On 17, you could be there all day.”
Ryder, who lives in the area and plays the course regularly, said on No. 17, “They might hit the first one on the green or they might go through their whole bag. A 10-handicapper is a good golfer, but if it was a coin flip, I would put my money on it being in the water before being on the green to start.”