Justin Rose began his final round of the £6 million Players Championship two hours before the leaders – but was two shots closer to them without hitting a shot.
Rose was penalised two shots following his third round on Saturday after his ball moved as he set up to play his third shot from the back of the 18th green.
The US Open champion would have escaped with a one-shot penalty if he had replaced his ball, but appeared uncertain that the ball had moved after consulting with playing partner Sergio Garcia.
That meant a third round of 73 and left Rose five under par, seven shots behind Ryder Cup team-mate Martin Kaymer and Jordan Spieth, only for the penalty to be rescinded by tournament officials yesterday.
“I was good with the way everything played out. I want to play by the rules,” said Rose before beginning his final round. “But I was reading an article in the evening and the rule states, and I’m paraphrasing, if a player can’t discern whether the ball moved or not it’s deemed not to have moved. I sort of scratched my head and said that’s exactly what happened to me and yet I was docked two (shots).”
The penalty was rescinded under a new decision on the rules of golf which was announced in November last year and came into effect from 1 January, 2014.
Decision 18-4 states that “where enhanced technological evidence shows that a ball has left its position and come to rest in another location, the ball will not be deemed to have moved if that movement was not reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time.
“The Decision ensures that a player is not penalised under Rule 18-2 in circumstances where the fact that the ball had changed location could not reasonably have been seen without the use of enhanced technology.”
In a statement, the PGA Tour said yesterday that 18-4 was initially thought not to apply because television footage showed the ball may have moved in a way that was discernible to the naked eye, but upon further review “the Rules Committee reopened the incident and focused on how much the use of sophisticated technology played a part in making the original ruling.
“This morning, after consulting with the governing bodies and PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, it was determined that without the use of sophisticated technology, it was not reasonably discernible to the naked eye that the ball had left its original position and had come to rest in its original place.
“Thus, the player’s determination that the ball had not moved was deemed to be conclusive and the penalty does not apply in this situation.”
Rose was making the most of his opportunity, birdies from close range at the second, fourth and ninth taking him to ten-under par and just two shots off the lead as the final pair teed off.
But his chances suffered a massive blow when he dropped shots on the tenth and 11th, the latter coming when he found water with his approach to the par-5.
Russell Knox, making his debut in the event, closed with a four-under 68 – his best effort of the week – to finish on three-under. It was set to earn the Invernesian another decent pay-day.