Spieth was 2 down with three to play in his match with Henrik Stenson when they came to Hazeltine National’s par-5 16th.
The American proceeded to dunk his approach shot left in the water. Luckily, the ball didn’t submerge, it was bobbing above water right on the bank. Desperate, Spieth took off his shoes, rolled up his pant legs and prepared to hit out of the water.
But then he made a big mistake. He dipped his foot in the water to try to figure out his stance, and in the process the ball moved.
That’s a big no-no. According to Rule 18-2, which deals with a ball moving at rest, if Spieth is deemed to have caused to have moved his ball at rest, he is penalized. Well, he moved a ball that was at rest, which should mean a penalty.
He noticed the ball move right away and called in an official to check things out, but Spieth didn’t agree that he should get a penalty.
To summarize the argument, Spieth thought he was allowed to step in the water, even if his ball moved. But the official was adamant about this question when Spieth asked, responding, “No.”
That’s when Spieth really started to argue, responding, “Are you sure?” He followed up by noting to the official, that, “there’s no other way I could have done it, I had to take a stance, right?”
He then added, to caddie Michael Greller, “Mike, there’s no way I can hit it anyway.”
When the official reiterated that this was a penalty, Spieth pleaded, “Please double-check.”
He then concluded, “It’s done now, anyway.” He would then continue to argue, “I still had to check out if I was going to have a stance,” but ultimately he would have been penalized one stroke if he hit the shot.
And yes, he would get penalized that stroke for violating Rule 18-2 (on top of a one-stroke penalty for hitting in the water) even if he decided not to hit from there and instead take a drop before the water.