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The Belgian hit his tee shot on the 13th to the right of the green, then chipped his second shot to 14ft. Unluckily for Pieters, the ball had landed on a sprinkler head. While this would typically entitle a player to a free drop, the sprinkler head was touching a red line marking the penalty area. After consulting with a PGA Tour official, Pieters was frustrated to learn he was being denied the free drop.
Pieters’ frustrations were then compounded when his opponent, Tom Hoge, made a birdie to leave him needing to hole out to halve the hole. Pieters’ reaction said everything about what he thought of the decision – he casually hit the ball well beyond the hole, then attempted to kick it into the water. Check his reaction out here:
🚨THOMAS PIETERS FREAK OUT ALERT🚨 pic.twitter.com/ZyNLRWk917March 23, 2022
This would have been a controversial enough incident on its own. However, an hour later, Bryson DeChambeau – already experiencing an eventful day – was awarded a drop even though his ball landed on the same sprinkler head. Once the hole was completed, a rules official was quickly on the scene to spray paint the grass over the sprinkler head green, removing the offending red line. The apparent double standards left golf fans perplexed:
Imagine moving the sideline during the middle of an NFL game. pic.twitter.com/2OpYkUasqKMarch 23, 2022
On the left: no reliefOn the right: free reliefSomeone will have to explain to me! pic.twitter.com/9B8rON7IFxMarch 23, 2022
We NEED a live camera on Thomas Pieters when he sees that Bryson DeChambeau got a free drop from the same sprinkler head.March 23, 2022
Pieters watching Bryson get a drop… pic.twitter.com/h4AnUfm0iuMarch 23, 2022
Can someone explain why Bryson got a free drop but Thomas Pieters didn’t? Literally the exact same lie #WGCMatchPlayMarch 23, 2022
Can someone explain how Bryson dechambeau gets a free drop here but Thomas pieters didn’t 🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/Rli3jMsTJ9March 23, 2022
Thankfully for Pieters, the highly controversial incident didn’t put him off his game too much – he won his match 2&1 and will now prepare to face Min Woo Lee on Thursday and Billy Horschel on Friday.
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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