- Rose signed for a 73 in Saturday's third round after being issued a penalty. (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Justin Rose was penalized two strokes following the completion of his third round Saturday at THE PLAYERS Championship after it was determined his ball moved behind the 18th green when he soled his wedge behind it.
Under Rule 18-2.b, he was penalized one stroke for the ball moving and another for not replacing it.
With the penalty Rose signed for a double-bogey 6 on the hole to shoot 73 and is now seven shots back of co-leaders Jordan Spieth and Martin Kaymer.
"That was a bitter pill to swallow at the end of a battling day," said Rose, who initially backed away from the ball but decided not to call for a rules official after seeing a replay of it on the video board next to the green. "It was a very incredibly spongy, thatchy bit of fairway and the whole surface underneath my wedge gave way. And at that point you make a call, did my ball move, did it just sort of move with the turf and oscillate?
"As I'm making that determination there's a replay right there and (Sergio Garcia and I) both stared at it and agreed there was zero movement to the golf ball."
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.
"They had a different angle on the other feed; they had a much closer one," said PGA TOUR Vice President of Rules Mark Russell. "It was my view his ball did move."
Afterward, Rose agreed but still didn't sound totally convinced.
"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 could still argue that the whole surface is what you're seeing move the ball and did it return it or not return it? You try to make the right call in the moment. I don't think my ball moved, but at the end of the day it either moved or didn't move and you make that call yourself and it's hard. It was abnormal ground surface and I really felt the ball went down and up. At the time you think it didn't move and I've actually seen a replay to confirm my ball didn't move, so I was very happy not to call a rules official because I felt I had done everything right.
"But after it turns out the ball moved a hair I wish I did call a rules official just to have the conversation. It's tough to call a guy out there at that point ... guys take calling rules official taking a drop from a sprinkler head out there takes 3-4 minutes and that probably happens 20 times a day. In some ways this is why pace of play is so slow."
At the same time, Rose was quick to point out that it was his own fault for trying to be his own rules official.
Not that it made it any easier for the reigning U.S. Open champion to take.
"It's a game of millimeters at the best of times; and yet it's kind of frustrating when you feel scared to address a golf ball," he said. "When you're playing on imperfect surfaces and you go ahead and you're grounding or soling any type of club, it's amazing how kind of timid you have to be.
"It has to be the right result. Because if the ball moves, whether it moves an inch, if the ball moves a hair, the ball moved. I've always tried to play my game the right way and I'm going to feel better teeing it up (Sunday) than if it had been otherwise. I got to just move on now."