USGA: Gone with the Wind Is Rule Concerning Balls on the Greens

John BurkeContributor IOctober 24, 2011

NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05:  Webb Simpson reacts after he made a putt for birdie on the 18th hole during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2011 in Norton, Massachusetts. Simpson went onto win the tournament after a 2-hole playoff.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

On the day after Webb Simpson lost the money title, the rule that caused him to finish second has been changed.

Rule 18-2b, concerning the ball moving after address, has been amended by both the R&A and the USGA. Under the old rules, if a ball rolled or moved while the player was already addressed, the player was assessed a one-shot penalty. 

Under the changes, the player will not be penalized, "when it is known or virtually certain that they did not cause the ball to move." 

This rule comes a day too late for Webb Simpson. 

If you remember back to the Zurich Classic early in the season, Simpson was on the 15th hole and poised to win his first title. However, the ball moved slightly on the green, causing Simpson to be penalized a shot.

That one stroke would cause Simpson to drop into a playoff with Bubba Watson where he would eventually lose.

The difference between first and second place at that tournament was $460,800. Simpson finished second on the 2011 PGA Tour money list by a mere $335,861 behind Luke Donald.

If this rule change was in place before this season, Simpson would have won the title and a five-year tour exemption. 

As rules go, this was one of the most unfair rules on tour as Simpson was not the only player to face the consequences of the wind. In the Open Championship at Royal St. George's, Rory McIlroy was also penalized under the rules.