WEB.COM TOUR FINALS
Crane receives two four-shot penalties for non-conforming clubs
September 14, 2017
By Kevin Prise, PGATOUR.COM
- September 14, 2017
- University of Oregon alum Ben Crane has five career PGA TOUR victories. (Alex Wood/PGA TOUR)
BOISE, Idaho – The rules of golf can bring about some unusual scenarios, one of which came to life for Ben Crane in the opening round of the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco.
The 41-year-old Oregon native received two separate four-shot penalties Thursday for carrying, but not using, non-conforming clubs (a driver and a 6-iron), the non-conformity due to ‘dot sticker’ decals that he uses to aid in data collection during practice.
Crane, who began his round on Hillcrest CC’s 10th hole, noticed a decal on his driver on No. 11 tee box. He brought it to the attention of a Web.com Tour rules official, and was assessed the first four-shot penalty (if he had noticed before putting out on his first hole, the penalty would have only been two shots, but since he was between holes, he was penalized two shots for each hole of the infraction.)
On the 14th hole, Crane informed the rules staff of a similar decal on his 6-iron. Since it was a separate rules breach, he received another four-stroke penalty (the maximum amount punishable under the rule).
If Crane had used either club before reporting the subsequent infraction, he would have been disqualified from the tournament.
Update: Crane was disqualified from competition Friday morning, after he approached Jim Duncan, Web.com Tour Vice President of Rules, Competition and Administration, informing him that he had been aware of the 6-iron decal at the time of noting the driver decal on No. 11 tee.
Because Crane didn't declare the 6-iron out of play at the time, to a playing partner or rules official, it marked a rules breach that carries a penalty of disqualification.
"In his defense, I think that when you get assessed an eight-shot penalty, your head is going to be spinning," Duncan said.
"At this point, between the 12th and the 13th holes, (rules official) Andrew Miller confirmed with him that the driver, that was made aware to us, had to be taken out of play; then he played 13 and part of 14 (carrying) the 6-iron.
"Then he came back this morning and said he knew he had the 6-iron ... he’s got to make a declaration that that club is out of play, either to a member of the committee, which he could’ve told Andrew Miller, or to one of his fellow competitors. When he didn’t make that declaration, at the point he knew he had to take that club out of play, that’s ultimately a disqualification penalty.”
The Web.com Tour rules team conferred with the USGA as to whether the second infraction was necessary, since both infractions fall under the same rule. It was ultimately decided that each was a separate rules breach because they were reported at separate times.
“The rules staff did a great job and tried just to make it a four-shot penalty, but the rule stands,” said Crane, who finished tied for sixth at the Finals-opening Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship. “Eight-shot penalty. It’s a bummer, but it’s the rules.”
“Having any kind of attachment on the club face including a decal is a violation of Rule 4-1 and renders the club non-conforming,” explained Duncan. “As usually is the case when applying a penalty this big, you want to confirm your interpretation of the ruling. We conferred as a committee and also with the USGA about not only the decal but whether or not the penalty would be the same breach of the same rule or separate breaches of the same rule.
“The decision reached by all parties was that it was a separate breach of the same rule. Because he didn’t use either one of the clubs and took them out of play, the penalty just applies to the first two holes, therefore giving him a four-stroke penalty on each of the 10th and 11th hole. The use of a non-conforming club would have resulted in a disqualification penalty.”
After adding four strokes to his score for each of his first two holes (resulting in quadruple-bogey 8s), Crane played his final 16 holes in 3 under, ultimately signing for a 5-over 76.
The University of Oregon alum is playing the Web.com Tour Finals for the first time after finishing No. 147 in the PGA TOUR’s 2016-17 FedExCup standings, in a season where he made 18 cuts in 26 starts but recorded just one top-10 finish.
“You can still learn while you’re playing,” said Crane of his motivation to forge ahead after the rules incident. “You can pick something up for the next tournament. I just tried to keep plugging away and make the best of it.”