Ruling Heartbreak: Fall Foliage May Have Cost Matthew Southgate His PGA Tour Card

If you ask Matthew Southgate what his favorite season of the year is, he’ll probably put Fall last after what happened to him this past weekend at the Web.com’s DAP Championship. Southgate was faced with a short putt for birdie on the back nine before disaster struck…in the form of a leaf.

Much like a tumbleweed rolling a through a deserted town, the leaf crossed into the path of Southgate’s ball and stopped it dead in its tracks. To the average viewer, this appeared to be an unfortunate twist of bad luck for Southgate.

But this was only the beginning of his troubles that day.

You see, Southgate should have gone to a rules official to determine what needed to be done if a ball is obstructed during a putt. Because according to USGA rules 19-1, you must replace the ball and replay the stroke. This rule – contrary to other USGA rules – is put in place to help a golfer when this sort of thing happens.

Image Source/ http://www.usga.org/rules/rules-and-decisions.html#!rule-19

So instead of picking up the ball and replacing it in the correct spot Southgate just tapped in for what was perceived to be a par. After the round was over, and he signed the scorecard, it was discovered that he violated rule 19-1 and was penalized for two strokes.

And to make matters worse they tacked on another two strokes to his score because he signed an inaccurate scorecard.

So who’s making fun of Jordan Spieth now after he spent a half hour on a shot at the Open Championship when his ball deflected off a fan on his tee shot at the 13th hole? Not a single person.

Southgate has certainly learned this lesson the hard way. He is still in the top-25 on the Web.com Tour heading into the final week of the Web.com season. He needs to stay in that top-25 to secure his PGA Tour card for the 2017-2018 season.