Abraham Ancer said he's "gutted" by the Masters competition committee's decision to assess him a two-stroke penalty for touching the sand with his club before his shot from the greenside bunker on the 15th hole during Thursday's first round.
Ancer, whose score dropped from a one-over 73 to a three-over 75, posted a statement along with a close-up video of the incident:
Competition committee chairman James B. Hyler released a statement to explain the decision:
"On the 15th hole during Thursday's first round, Abraham Ancer unknowingly touched the sand before making his third stroke from the greenside bunker.
"After Mr. Ancer had signed his scorecard and exited the scoring area, video evidence was reviewed by the Committee regarding a potential breach of Rule 12.2b(1), which states that touching sand in a bunker right behind the ball results in a penalty."
The committee ruled the penalty was "visible to the naked eye," and thus the two-shot penalty was added to Ancer's first-round score.
Unfortunately for Ancer, there was a small spike of sand right behind his ball that was noticeably gone after he finished his preparations for the shot, which led to the penalty.
Whether such punishments should be handed down hours after a player completed his round with the use of high-definition cameras from a perfect angle is a separate debate. It gets away from golf's history of self-governance.
Ancer, who tied for 13th in last year's Masters for his best major finish to date, was in a solid position with his one-over first round on a day where Augusta National Golf Club played difficult for pretty much everybody but Justin Rose, who cruised to a four-shot lead with a seven-under 65.
Now the 30-year-old former University of Oklahoma standout will have to find a way to make up an additional two shots in the coming days to have a chance at contention. That's a tough ask on a course that isn't likely to yield a ton of birdies.
He'll tee off the second round Friday at 1 p.m. ET alongside playing partners Hideki Matsuyama and Harris English.