Rickie Fowler calls for rule change after illegal drop penalty

Rickie Fowler was penalised one shot in the WGC Mexico Championship for dropping from the wrong height, a new rule he expects to be changed.
Rickie Fowler was penalised for taking a shoulder height drop. Picture: Hector Vivas/Getty ImagesRickie Fowler was penalised for taking a shoulder height drop. Picture: Hector Vivas/Getty Images
Rickie Fowler was penalised for taking a shoulder height drop. Picture: Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Fowler hit a shank on his second shot of the second round from the 10th fairway. He got a ball from his caddie and instinctively held out his arm at shoulder-height, then played his next shot to the green.

The modernised Rules of Golf that began this year require drops to be done at knee-length.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It’s not unusual for players to use a method that had been in place since 1984 – before Fowler was even born – but in all but one occasion on the PGA Tour, someone noticed and the player was able to re-drop. In this case, neither Jon Rahm nor Patrick Reed watched him go through the drop, and his caddie was looking at the yardage book. Fowler said someone mentioned to Reed that the drop was shoulder-height, and that’s when Fowler realised what he had done.“It’s on me. I took the shot. It was no big deal,” Fowler said. “But I think with the new rules that have been put in place, it’s not doing any favours for our sport.”

With the shank out-of-bounds and the penalty for the incorrect drop, he made triple bogey and shot 73.

He called the knee-length drop a “terrible” change, adding:“I definitely think it will get changed.”

Rules officials from tours around the world, led by the USGA and R&A, spent five years overhauling the rules to make them simpler and easier to understand for pros and recreational players alike. The change in the drop received most of the attention, as some players couldn’t figure out a smooth motion to get their hands at knee-length.

Dustin Johnson held a two-shot lead over Rory McIlroy going into the third round in Mexico.