Despite questionable “footwork” Hideki Matsuyama did not incur four penalty strokes

Hi all.

Hideki Matsuyama participates in this weeks Hero World Challenge – alongside with Tiger Woods.

During the second round Friday he was involved in a situation, where it was questioned whether or not there was a rules infraction.

1. Video.
See the episode here:

2. Facts. 
As you can see, the following happened:

a) He chipped the ball, but it was a bad chip.
b) The ball began rolling back towards him.
c) While the ball was still rolling, he stepped on the turf just made by himself.

Was he allowed to do so?

3. The Rules of Golf.
Rule 1-2 states that as a starting point you are not allowed to do anything with the intend to affect the movement of the ball. The turning/conclusive point thus is whether or not he had such an intent.

The rules official asked him, and he said, that he had stepped on the turf instinctively and not to affect the movement of the ball.

Therefore it was concluded that there was no intent and therefore no penalty.

4. Correct ruling?
Well, on the video it looks like he stepped on it because he could see, that his ball was on its way to the spot, where the turf was.

But of course it is difficult to find out what a players intention is.

5. For rules geeks.
Please note, that Rule 1-2 not – as Rule 13-2 – requires that there is an improvement. Rule 1-2 only requires that there is an intention to affect the movement of the ball – the intention does not have to be an intention to improve the situation.


Had the conclusion been, that he indeed had an intention to affect the movement of the ball, he would have incurred two penalty strokes for that, and an additional penalty of two penalty strokes for handing in a scorecard with a score too low on a hole. In all that would have been four penalty strokes.

But: He did not get any penalty 🙂


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