PALM BEACH GARDENS -- More than one player — actually, many of the players — were upset Friday that they were not allowed to lift, clean and place their ball during the second round of the Honda Classic.
Ernie Els, one of the easiest-going golfers on the PGA Tour, was one of them.
“I just cannot see the point where you hit a perfect tee shot and you get penalized with mud on your ball. Then it’s a guessing game. Yeah, I fought on that, and it just got to a certain point.”
With a smile, Els intimated he might even have to cough up some money for a heated argument he had with an official on the 18th hole.
“I was going nuts on 18 there on the rules official because we had mud on the ball,” Els said. “Guess I’m going to have to donate to charity or something.”
Boo Weekley added, “Yes, on the back side it got a little muddy on us.”
Tournament leader Luke Guthrie agreed there was plenty of mud on the course, but — possibly because he’s a PGA Tour rookie — didn’t want to get into the fray.
“It’s an outdoors sport, so you kind of live and die by that a little bit,” Guthrie said of mud on the ball. “You might get mud balls, you might not; got to deal with it.”
The effect of mud on the ball is that it makes a shot difficult to control. In Thursday’s opening round, the lift, clean and place rule was used at Honda.
Who makes the decision on lift, clean and place?
“It’s a committee,” said Slugger White, a longtime and respected PGA Tour official who is a member of that committee.
“We went out in the morning and examined the course,” White said of the Champion Course at PGA National Resort & Spa. “We didn’t think the conditions were that adverse. We looked and decided we didn’t need the lift rule, that it dried out enough overnight.”
Then he added, “If you get a little mud on the ball, that’s golf.”
Will so many players complaining bother White?
“No,” he said. “I’ve been around too long for that.”
McIlroy and Doral
There was no official word on whether Rory McIlroy’s tooth problem that made him exit the Honda Classic will keep him out of next week’s World Golf Championships event at Doral, but it is extremely likely he will play. In fact, he is already scheduled to hold a news conference at Doral on Tuesday.