GREENSBORO, N.C. – After further review, the putt stands.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello’s 19-foot birdie putt at the par-3 7th hole hung on the right edge of the lip for what seemed like an eternity before it finally dropped. The Spaniard, who entered the week ranked No. 133, went on to shoot 3-under 67 at Sedgewood Country Club.
But the 27 seconds it took from the time Cabrera-Bello hit his putt to the time his Titleist 3 golf ball with his initials on it fell in the hole was brought to the attention of Rules officials, and the Tour’s Mark Russell discussed the matter with Cabrera-Bello after the round.
The question at hand: Did he get to the hole in a reasonable amount of time?
“It was inconclusive,” said Russell, the Tour’s vice president of rules and competition. “We’re talking about a second or two. I didn’t think it was definitive enough. It was splitting hairs.”
Rule 13.3. states that if any part of a player’s ball overhangs the lip of the hole the player is allowed a “reasonable” amount of time to reach the hole. Once a player gets to the hole, he receives 10 more seconds to see if the ball will drop.
According to the Rules of Golf, after 10 seconds, the ball is treated as being at rest. If the putt had fallen in, it would have counted as holed and Cabrera-Bello would get one penalty stroke added to the score for the hole.
“You’re just like praying for it to go in and you’re kind of waiting. And I’m like, oh, it’s not going to fall,” Cabrera-Bello said. “But then I saw my playing partners walk up to the ball and start staring at it and I thought like they must be seeing it moving.
“And a few seconds later I started walking at the hole and when I was getting – when I was reaching the ball, it dropped. And we reviewed the footage and the referee said that it was so, so close and so tight, but they wanted to know if I have deliberately slowed down my walk to the hole and I told them that I didn’t, I slowed down because I saw my playing partners walking in.
“I didn’t know the 10-second rule, when it actually came in effect. I didn’t know if it was after I had hit the ball or when you reach the ball or exactly – I didn’t know exactly when. I wasn’t trying to gain anything, it was just one of those one-in-a-thousand scenarios that luckily for me I end up with a birdie.”