Date: July 10, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

Super Spaniard in rules drama

Jon Rahm won the Irish Open overnight with a record-breaking score, but another rules drama dominated discussion.

Rahm, who won by six at a remarkable 24 under at Portstewart Golf Club in Northern Ireland, was told on the 13th tee of a possible penalty he might have committed on the 6th green.

Replays show Rahm marked his ball to the side on a short putt, but when he returned the ball he placed it in front of the marker.

Andy McFee, the European tour's chief referee, approached Rahm as he walked off the 13th tee, but elected not to assess a penalty.

McFee later said there were only "millimetres" between where the ball was initially marked and where it was finally struck and that Rahm had made a "reasonable judgment".

Rahm's incident was similar to Lexi Thompson's at the ANA Inspiration earlier this year, when she was penalised four strokes – two for playing her ball from the wrong spot and two for signing an incorrect card – and lost the tournament in a playoff.

Among a chorus of those who disagreed with the penalty was outspoken Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee.

"The integrity of the competition was certainly at risk, and the dynamic of the competition completely changed from what it should have been to one person's interpretation, and in my opinion, a wrong interpretation," Chamblee said.

"Andy McFee certainly has a great reputation administering the rules in a fair manner, but I believe he got this one wrong. It wasn't millimetres. It was inches, probably two, three inches that this ball was misplaced.

"So (Rahm) broke the rule. He should have been penalised, which means he wouldn't have been playing with a five-shot lead. He would have been playing with a three-shot lead.

"All of a sudden, what looks to be something easy and a walk in the park becomes very stressful." But the manner of Rahm's dominance – and that his action truly seemed innocent – probably took the heat out of the equation.

The Spaniard's collection of rounds – 65-67-67-65 – was among the best seen on the European Tour in years and his final round included two spectacular eagles as he won for the first time as a professional in Europe and rejoined the world's top 10.

"To actually play my best golf than I can remember and shoot 24 under on this golf course and win it by six, that is not something I would have believed I was capable of," Rahm said.

"I learnt a lot about myself and it's a really, really special day."

Adelaide's Wade Ormsby capped a consistent tournament with a 68 to finish T14 at a more than respectable -13.

Queenslanders Andrew Dodt (70) and Scott Hend (73) shared 20th place at -12, while Corowa's Marcus Fraser fired four sub-par rounds to finish T36 at -10 while New South Welshman Sam Brazel closed with a 72 to finish T62 at -5.