Berger Praises Knox As Fellow Scot Coltart Left Surprised Over AT & T Pebble Beach Ruling.

New AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am winner Daniel Berger has praised Russell Knox while his fellow Scot Andrew Coltart, and working for SKY Sports Golf, was left surprised after the bizarre rules controversy early last Sunday in the final round at Pebble Beach.

Knox was sharing second place heading to the final round when he stood-up on the first tee and superbly split the fairway with his 3-wood opening shot.  Knox’s ball landed not in the rough nor in a bunker or within the confines of a hazard but on the carpet-like fairway, some 160-yards out from the pin.

In addressing his ball for a matter of just two seconds, Knox saw his ball move albeit very slightly and then in standing to the side of his ball, and revealing to his playing partners the ball moved, it moved a second time.

Scotland’s Russell Knox talking with a rules official on the opening fairway on the final day of the AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

One of his final day partners was Berger, who would hole a monster eagle putt on the 72nd hole to win the event by two shots.

A PGA Tour official ruled ‘no penalty’ with Knox then paring the first, grabbing back-to-back birdies at two and three and seeing his 10-foot birdie putt on the fourth horribly horse-shoe on him.

Knox went on a charge post the first ruling, charging his way two-under after four but there waiting for him on the par-3 fifth tee was a second rules official and with the Scot sending his tee-shot horribly into a greenside bunker.

The official advised Knox on their walk to the green the Tour had reviewed the incident on the first and assessed, under Rule 9 -4 (b), that Knox had deemed the ball to move and needed to add a stroke to his card.

On top of the resultant bogey at five and now the stroke penalty at the first, Knox dropped to a share of seventh and despite a birdie on six, the 35-year-old looking also for an eight pro career win, dropped from contention.

Knox said: “I wanted to tee my ball up in the first fairway to gain an advantage but sadly I got caught, which sucked (laughing).

“But, no, I mean, horrible. I was putting my club behind the ball and moved up, gave it a little waggle, and I was like, I turned back to the ball and I saw it move.

“And at first, the ruling was that I didn’t cause it to move, because it was such a grey area there, and ultimately we got it right and I did address the ball.

“I should have been penalized but it’s a rule which I wish they would eliminate because obviously it happened to Maverick McNealy on the 17th on Saturday, and he got no advantage, and now me, obviously, no advantage today and we get penalized for it.”

Coltart calling the action on SKY Sports said: “The thing to understand here is that Russell had been deemed to do nothing wrong.  He asked for ruling.  He explained the situation to the referee and it doing that, he sounded well and precise

“I’m surprised that they have subsequently gone away and determined that the first referee has given a wrong ruling.”

Former Open Champion, Ian Baker-Finch and working with CBS, remarked: “They are tough penalties to accept and even tougher for Russell to have to stomach.”

Berger was asked after the prize presentation by this journalist his view of the incident.

He said:  “The way that Russell described it when we were, when I was standing there, it sounded like it was a penalty and then the rules official came in and said it wasn’t a penalty because he had addressed ball and then the ball moved, and from what I’ve always understood is once you’ve addressed the ball and you’ve kind of gotten in there and the ball moves, it’s usually your fault for the most, and he didn’t give him a penalty.

“So, I was trying to just inquire about why it wasn’t a penalty if it was one or what was going on. And then obviously they looked at it on tape and figured out it was a penalty, and it is what it is. I mean, it sucks but that’s just the way golf goes.”

And despite the ‘bigger picture’ nature of the ruling for Knox in striving to win the event, Berger was full of praise for the Scot:  “Russell, honestly, he didn’t mention it once after the rules official came up. I asked him what happened.

“He said I got a penalty and then it was kind of forgotten, which I think is probably the best way to deal with it. I mean, it is what it is. You just have to move on.”

The Daily Record sought a statement from the PGA Tour over the incident and was advised there would be no official statement other than advising the Rule that Knox broke.

To Knox’s credit he birdied his closing two holes in a round of 70 to finish T7th at 13-under par and collect a second top-10 in his 12 starts on the 2020/21 PGA Tour schedule.

The effort has seen Knox jump 19 spots to 54th on the FedEx Cup standings while he’s picked-up 20 spots to 208th on the World Rankings.

 



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