Harrington Praises ‘Very Sporting’ Westwood In Open Ruling

Harrington Praises ‘Very Sporting’ Westwood In Open Ruling
Harrington Praises ‘Very Sporting’ Westwood In Open Ruling

The story of how Lee Westwood showed sporting honour by refusing to argue for a free drop at the Open Championship

Standing on the 10th tee of the third round of this Open Championship, Lee Westwood was at -10 and vying for the lead. His drive leaked to the right and seemed to plunge directly into a lone bush that stood just to the right of the fairway.

Indeed, it was but there seemed to be a ray of hope. On close inspection it became clear the ball was embedded in the grass at the foot of the bush. Perhaps the Englishman might escape punishment by being given a free drop?

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Lee Westwood and the rules official then engaged in a conversation that was caught on camera. The latter posed an interesting question: if the ball wasn’t embedded, would you play it?

For many golfers, this would have signalled an opportunity to adopt a hugely unlikely stance in a bid to show that playing it as it lied would have been an option.

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Not Lee Westwood. Instead, the Englishman quickly and simply agreed with the implied sentiment of the rules official and said he would have taken a drop for an unplayable lie. With that, the exception to the embedded ball rule (rule 16.1) came into play and Westwood, dropped it back under a penalty of one shot and proceeded to make his first bogey in 32 holes.

In truth, Westwood did what most golfers would hope he would. But would every player in the field have been so willing to take the penalty?

It also illustrates that in today’s world of video referees carefully scrutinising the slightest of movements in pivotal sporting moments, that in golf, honour still plays a huge role.

In a tweet, Padraig Harrington wrote, “very sporting of @WestwoodLee not to attempt to take a free drop on 10. With all recent rules decisions it reminds us of the honour at the heart of the game.”

It is often said that golf is a game played by gentlemen. Sadly, this isn’t always the truth but in the case of Lee Westwood, the honour he showed in this scenario was highly commendable.

Neil Tappin
Digital Editor

In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."


Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points. 

Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSi2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X