SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — The PGA of America is taking the unusual step of playing preferred lies during the fourth round of the PGA Championship because of wet conditions at Baltusrol Golf Club.
Known as “lift, clean and place,” players are allowed to pick up their ball in “closely mown areas” — typically the fairway — in order to remove mud and find a more suitable place from which to play. The players must first mark his ball, then place it within one club length of its original spot and can only do so once, as the ball is then in play at that point.
Although there is a provision in the Rules of Golf appendix section for “preferred lies” or “winter rules,” it is almost never invoked during a major championship. The various governing bodies tend to stick strongly tp Rule 13-1, which basically states that players shall play the ball as it lies.
Competitors in the third round Sunday morning must continue to play the ball down.
The third round of the PGA Championship was suspended around 2:15 p.m. on Saturday and never resumed because of heavy rain and thunderstorms. The course received two inches on Monday, plus more rain Thursday and Saturday into Sunday. Play resumed Sunday morning at 7 a.m. with more rain in the forecast.
The fourth round began at 8:40 a.m. ET, meaning some players were completing the third while the fourth round was already underway. The hope was to complete the tournament Sunday.
Kerry Haigh, the PGA of America’s chief championships officer, had said on Saturday night that it would be “very unlikely” the tournament would use preferred lies.
“The Rules of Golf are there to cover wet weather,” Haigh said, meaning players are allowed drops from casual water — temporary accumulations where there aren’t usually hazards.
The problem with that scenario, however, is the course is so saturated and water is so predominant that finding a proper spot — and being able to take relief — is proving difficult.
The PGA Tour routinely plays preferred lies or “ball in hand” as some players call it for expediency and fairness issues. To complete 72 holes in a timely fashion, being able to lift, clean and place helps speed up play or allows for play when conditions would otherwise call for it to be halted.