In case you missed it, Olympic silver medallist Rory Sabbatini was bizarrely disqualified from the weekend’s PGA Tour event. After birdieing five of his final six holes to post an opening four-under 68 over the Plantation Course, the Slovakian fell foul of one of the game’s stranger rules at the RSM Classic.
The rule in question is 4.1, which relates to the performance characteristics of a club, and as per the PGA Tour Communications’ Twitter account, Sabbatini had a “non-conforming external attachment” on a fairway wood he used at the Tour’s final regular stop of the 2020/21 season.
Rory Sabbatini DQ from The RSM Classic due to a violation of Rule 4.1. Sabbatini had a non-conforming external attachment to the face of a club he used during the round.November 18, 2021
Officials confirmed the violation was the result of a small reflective sticker, the kind of which is regularly used by pros when practising with a launch monitor to improve the accuracy of data returned. Realising he hadn’t removed the sticker, the 45-year-old requested a post-round ruling, after which he learned his fate.
“There are stickers, reflective stickers. [They are] tiny,” John Munch, the PGA Tour’s senior tournament director of equipment standards, told Golf Channel. “The players use them to track club head speed when they practice and he just didn’t take them off.”
Although Sabbatini, who has yet to comment on the incident, had nothing to gain by taking to the Sea Island golf course with the sticker still attached, there was no other option under the Rules of Golf. To make matters worse, he now has to wait until the Sony Open in the middle of January before he will be eligible to play on the PGA Tour again.
American Talor Cooch went on to capture his first PGA Tour event, shooting a closing bogey-free 64 to beat Mackenzie Hughes by three. In doing so, he became the seventh player since 2017 to hold a 54-hole lead and post a 64 or better to win, joining the likes of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka.
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