Mud Balls Anger PGA Tour Players At Hero World Challenge

A number of PGA Tour stars were 'infuriated' after the Tour's decision to not allow preferred lies

Tom Kim identifies his golf ball which is covered in mud
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tour Pros at the Hero World Challenge were ‘infuriated’ with the muddy conditions at the event, as a number of players found themselves identifying balls in the middle of fairways and seeking help from rules' officials.

PGA Tour officials had allowed players to pick and place their golf balls during rounds one and two under local rules, due the course experiencing adverse weather before the tournament began. However, going into round three, these rules were changed as the course was considered to be dry enough and the preferred lies' ruling was abolished. 

During round three, this caused major uproar between players as they disagreed with the ruling due to balls still being covered in mud even in the fairway. Kevin Kisner said he was ‘shocked’ with the decision.

A golf ball is covered in mud

Justin Thomas' ball during round three of the Hero World Challenge

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“Absolutely shocked, yeah,” Kisner said of the Tour’s decision. “No. 4, [I] had a 4-iron in with mud all on the left side with wind off the left and lost the ball left of the green. Pretty hard to aim it in the middle of that. But the leaders aren’t having any problems, so wasn’t too hard for everyone.”

Did Kisner have a point? Well, kind of. Scoring in the third round was almost two-strokes lower than the first two rounds which saw players dealing with gusts of wind up to 30mph. By the same token, Viktor Hovland was on hand to put this argument to bed, as he managed to increase his lead over Scottie Scheffler by three shots, carding 10 birdies in his third round under the exact same conditions. 

In fact, Hovland’s playing partner during round three, Cameron Young, experienced some poor lies which resulted in his score being severely affected, especially after a mud ball caused him a costly bogey on the par-5 11th before making another one at the 15th.

Two time Major champion, Justin Thomas, wasn’t sure if he did agree with the Tour’s decision to play the ball as it lies in round three, but declared ‘it is what it is’ and acknowledged that it was certainly debatable.

“I was joking with Tiger (Woods) and I said to Billy (Horschel) today, too, like I wish we could play it up after our tee shot and down around the green because I think playing it up is a huge advantage around the greens. 

"You’re able to just put it on a tee. The lies that you have, the shots that you have to create just don’t take as much creativity and skill I think, to be perfectly honest, as when you have to play the ball down and you have to obviously play it where it is.”

Rahm complains to a rules official in a golf buggy

Jon Rahm complains to rules officials during the third round of the Hero World Challenge 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Masters Champion, Scottie Scheffler, also offered his thoughts on the debacle, similarly to those of Thomas: “I think with the Rules of Golf there might be something we can figure it out whether it’s, I don’t know, a lift, clean and drop or draw a line in the fairway where it’s like hey, when you’re inside this line up to the green, you don’t clean your ball,” he said. 

“That’s just something we’ve done at home, Jordan and I, and everybody’s done it in the past and it works well. I don’t know what works exactly in a tournament setting.”

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Cieran Faulder

Cieran joined the Golf Monthly team having previously written for other digital outlets like Reach PLC and Northern Golfer. After studying Journalism at Northumbria University, Cieran went on to complete an MA at the University of Sunderland. A big golf fan, he currently plays at Blyth Golf Club, where he holds a handicap of 8. Citing his favorite golfer as Tiger Woods, Cieran regards himself as the best snap hooker of a ball in the North of England.