Washington State University golfer Nick Ellis played in a group that was penalized three shots Monday afternoon for slow play at the Home Course.
“It’s an unfortunate thing,” Ellis said. “They (USGA rules officials) obviously didn’t see the situation the right way.”
Ellis shot a 73 which would have put him in good position to earn a spot in the 64-man match play tournament, but his adjusted score of plus-4, 76 already has him outside of the top 64 going into to tomorrow’s round at the more challenging Chambers Bay.
Ellis said he walked briskly between shots and didn’t mark several putts after a warning for slow play after the ninth hole. He said he likely cost himself even more strokes by rushing his play.
“I could very easily be looking at a 70,” said Ellis, a Wenatchee native whose dad caddied for him.
Ellis said the group was slowed by a lost ball, but actually picked up 15 minutes on the back nine. However, according to USGA rules official Jeff Hall they were already 31 minutes behind the group in front of them at this point. While they finished 16 minutes behind the previous group, they needed to be within 14 minutes to avoid the penalty.
They were warned when they were 24 minutes behind after the ninth hole, and penalized one stroke when they were 31 minutes behind after 13. They were penalized two strokes after 18. Had they missed all four checkpoints they would have been disqualified.
While Ellis was particularly upset that his group, which included Michael Brown of Pennsylvania and Tevis Upton of Georgia, was told to mark their balls on the green on Hole No. 4 to allow the group behind them play up. This was done to help alleviate a long wait that was forming before No. 4.
Ellis said he does not believe the time they waited was taken into account. However, Hall said they were within 14 minutes of the previous group and this was the only checkpoint the group missed all day.
Brown finished with a penalty-inflated 75 and Upton’s score increased to 80.
Hall followed the group for the final 10 holes watching each player. To see if one players was the culprit. Hall said he did not see an effort from any of the players to pick up the pace of play.
Hall said any of the players can request for the group to be monitored at any time.
Ellis was visibly upset with the ruling but said he expects to be able to have it out of his mind by the time he tees off tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. at Chambers Bay.
Craig Hill, Staff writer