What's buzzing:

Devil Ball Golf

One wispy leaf could have cost Carl Pettersson half a million dollars

Jay Busbee
Devil Ball Golf

We've written in this space before about the rather overly-officious nature of golf's rules — you know, like the ones that can get you disqualified if you fail to pile sand properly on your ball when replacing it in its lie. Naturally, every time anyone broaches the question of whether maybe, just maybe, the rules of golf might be verging on the absurd, along come the usual troupe of bureaucratic ninnies to trumpet that golf is great because of its rules! No, golf is great despite many of its rules ... and will remain great no matter how hard the rules twits try to deny basic common sense.

Case in point: the above video starring one Carl Pettersson. On his backswing on the first hole, he tipped a leaf. A leaf! And for that mortal sin, because he moved a loose impediment in a hazard while his ball was in the same hazard, he received a two-stroke penalty ... but only after rules officials Zaprudered the film to be able to tell if he actually did brush the leaf. Pettersson was informed of his grave breach on the fourth hole, and though he tried to protest, the writing was already on the wall ... and, more importantly, on the two penalty strokes added to his scorecard.

[Related: Winners and losers from an incredible PGA Championship week]

"I double checked with the official to make sure I could brush the grass as long as I didn't put any weight on the ground with the clubhead, and he said sure," Pettersson said, as Golf Digest reported afterward. "I wish he would have mentioned the leaves, too. I was just trying to hit the ball. I didn't even think twice about it."

Pettersson accepted the punishment, but not its rationale. "I've got to take it on the chin, obviously. I broke the rule there," said Petterson. "I don't think it affected the outcome of the shot. It's just one of those things. We have a lot of stupid rules in golf."

"That (rule) is designed so an amateur doesn't drag his club back and make a channel for themselves (to make it easier to hit the ball out of a hazard)," CBS's David Feherty said, as reported by Golf Channel. "What do you think would happen if a pro did that out there? I think [rule-makers] can account for that. How are you supposed to make a backswing? Use the club like a spear?"

[Eric Adelson: Rory McIlroy's PGA Championship win elevates his status]

Look, we're not denying the need for rules. And yes, as the rules do exist in their present form, then yes, Pettersson was correctly penalized. But there has to be some measure of common sense employed here. There is absolutely zero advantage gained, zero impact on the game itself. (Not that it would have mattered in the face of Rory McIlroy's thorough vanquishing of the field at the PGA Championship, but the principle remains the same.) Pettersson would go on to finish T3 at -4, while the two strokes would have given him sole possession of second place.

"Sucks for me," Pettersson said. "I would have finished second on my own." Maybe yes and maybe no, but what's indisputable is that while Pettersson earned $384,500 (not bad for a week's work) for finishing in a tie for third, he would have earned $865,000, nearly half a million more, if he'd finished alone in second.

Sure, you can hide behind the idea that any rule is a valid rule, and every application of a rule is a valid application. But in situations like this, with a major championship on the line, there's absolutely no excuse for blowing a hole in Pettersson's round for such a ticky-tack foul. So if you can figure a way to defend this, you've got a job waiting for you in the world of golf bureaucracy.

-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-

Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
Trouble ends promising days for Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Mike Huguenin: For Sooners to reach goals, Landry Jones must rebound
First eight members of the U.S. Ryder Cup team set

View Comments (2472)
  • Golf-Double delight for Hurley after police locate his father

    American Billy Hurley III had double cause to celebrate on Friday when he made the cut at the Quicken Loans National in Virginia, then learned that his father had been found by police after going missing 12 days earlier. Hurley sank a four-footer … More »

    Reuters - 3 minutes 5 seconds ago
  • Jets, Bowles surprised, disappointed Richardson hid arrest

    Jets, Bowles surprised, disappointed Richardson hid arrest

    Todd Bowles and the New York Jets had no idea about Sheldon Richardson's latest troubles until media reports started popping up early Thursday night. The coach and the rest of the team were disappointed by the defensive lineman's arrest - and … More »

    AP - Sports - 5 minutes ago
  • Ibrahimovic leads PSG against Lyon in French Trophee des Champions

    A rare meaningful game on Canadian soil between two top clubs from Europe is set for Saturday night when Olympique Lyonnais takes on powerhouse Paris St-Germain in the Trophee des Champions. It is France's version of a Super Cup, the league … More »

    The Canadian Press - 5 minutes ago
  • Confident Arians aims for the top as Cardinals open camp

    Coach Bruce Arians says he has one expectation for the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals were 9-1 last year before injuries, especially at quarterback, sent the season on a downward spin that ended with an 11-6 record and a Wild Card playoff loss at … More »

    AP - Sports - 8 minutes ago
  • Redskins give LB Galette 1-year contract

    Redskins give LB Galette 1-year contract

    Whatever Junior Galette has been accused of away from football, and whatever punishment might come from an NFL investigation, Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden wanted to sign the outside linebacker to help the team's pass rush. Less than a week … More »

    AP - Sports - 9 minutes ago