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Match play is arguably the most intense format in the whole of golf and, during the third round matches of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play (opens in new tab), that was on full display, as Daniel Berger and Tyrrell Hatton were involved in a slightly tense altercation about where Hatton's golf ball had crossed the penalty area.
Hitting his second shot into the par-4 9th, the 30-year-old pulled his approach left, finding one of the many creeks at Austin Country Club. After Berger played his third, which he hit to around 4-feet, a discussion then took place between the two, as they couldn't decide where the ball should be dropped.
This should be interesting. Daniel Berger with another drop issue. This time his playing partner is Tyrrell Hatton. “It’s up to you, man”March 25, 2022
With a lengthy discussion in place, it appeared that Hatton felt the ball crossed the line around the green. However, he couldn't confirm whether this was the case or not. Berger meanwhile, would neither agree or disagree, stating to Hatton: "It was so close, I literally knew we were going to have this conversation," before then telling him “It’s up to you, man.”
The rules on penalty areas (opens in new tab) state that you must drop your ball back in line with where it crossed the penalty area, or within two club lengths of where it crossed. You also have the option to go back to where you originally played the shot from.
Whilst the conversation was going on, Hatton's caddie, Mick Donaghy, was actually standing just short of the penalty area, some 120-yards back from the green. The two players then asked him to move roughly to the line that Hatton played from so they could gauge where it may have crossed.
As that didn't work, the players consulted the cameramen around the green to see if they had any footage. The response was a no and, with it still being uncertain where the ball had crossed, Hatton was forced to walk back to the front of the creek.
Failing to get up-and-down, the Englishman went on to make a six and lose the hole, with Berger's putt for par being conceded.
If this situation sounds familiar, you may remember that Berger was involved in an incident with Viktor Hovland and Joel Dahmen at The Players Championship (opens in new tab). At TPC Sawgrass, the American was left visibly angry after Hovland denied him what he felt was the correct spot to drop during the final round.
The 28-year-old had hit his second shot into the water on the par-5 16th hole at TPC Sawgrass (opens in new tab) and hoped to take his drop much further up the fairway where he felt his ball had crossed the penalty area. However, his playing partners were uncomfortable with Berger dropping nearer hole and insisted he dropped it further back.
Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.
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