By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
CROMWELL, Conn. -- Thanks in part to a penalty assessed to Brian Gay on the 17th hole -- his eighth in the second round -- 18 more players made the cut at the Travelers Championship on Saturday than would have had he not been penalized.
Here was the scenario: Gay hit his approach shot from a fairway bunker into the hazard short and left of the green on the difficult par 4.
Gay stepped on the ball while looking for it in the thick rough within the hazard.
When they called for a rules official, their argument was that the ball was already embedded. However, Gay was assessed a one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2, which states that there’s a one-shot penalty if a player or his caddie touches the ball or causes it to move.
By saying he’d come in contact with the ball, Gay was, in essence, saying just that, according to PGA TOUR VP of Rules and Competition Mark Russell -- though Gay and caddie Kip Henley tried to state their argument for the better part of an hour after the round that the ball was already embedded.
Gay tried to play the ball out of the hazard, but it went just a few feet before he pitched up short of the green and eventually onto it and two-putted for a quadruple-bogey.
With the penalty Gay shot a 2-over 72 to finish his first two rounds at even par -- and right on the cut line.
If not for the penalty, Gay would have been the 70th player to finished at 1 under, which would have been the cut. Instead, 69 players finished at that number meaning the 18 other players at even par ended up making the cut.
Gay didn’t any better with the 17th hole in third round, either.
He hit his tee shot into the same fairway bunker, then hit his approach into the water and had to take a drop before making bogey.