The good news for Thomas Pieters? Much of the golf world’s attention is on the Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow. The bad news? The internet still exists.
Without it, this gaffe from Pieters during the DP World Tour’s French Open at Le Golf National outside Paris probably goes largely unnoticed. But, thanks to the watchful eye of Golf Twitter, every one of your mistakes makes it to social media and gets instantly magnified.
This mistake, however, won’t loom as large at the end of Pieters’ second round thanks to a bizarre ruling. First, watch what happens at the par-5 third, where Pieters addresses the ball, takes the putter back and appears to stop mid-stroke, essentially chunking a putt:
On first watch, it appears as though Pieters did indeed chunk a putt, which you’d assume counted as a stroke. But according to a few folks who saw what happened live, Pieters called over a rules official and explained that he was distracted by someone in the crowd and he attempted to stop his putting stroke, accidentally hitting his 35-foot birdie putt about three feet in the process. Here’s the full clip:
The official rules agreed with Pieters, allowing the 30-year-old from Belgium to replace his ball and to replay his birdie putt. He two-putted for par and is currently in a tie for fifth.
Per rule 13.1d, which was among the major changes in golf’s new rules in 2019, this situation was handled correctly:
There are two specific Rules for a ball or ball-marker that moves on the putting green.
(1) No Penalty for Accidentally Causing Ball to Move. There is no penalty if the player, opponent or another player in stroke play accidentally moves the player’s ball or ball-marker on the putting green.
-Replace the ball on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated)
-Place a ball-marker to mark that original spot.
Where this obviously gets confusing is that Pieters had addressed the ball and was clearly ready to attempt his stroke. But by claiming it was accidental, and the official agreeing with him on that claim, he was allowed to replay the shot. By the way, the fact that Pieters didn’t snap his putter in two and was able to laugh it off would lead you to believe it was, in fact, an accident. Still, an all-around bizarre rules situation, which is very on-brand for the game of golf.