Drop ball confusion costs Lytle
Ben Polland landed the Bermuda Open Championships yesterday at Port Royal and a cheque for $7,000 as controversy marred overnight leader Jimmy Lytle's final round after he suffered a two-stroke penalty to finish fourth.
Lytle, leading since the first round and by two strokes over Barry Lane, was involved in confusion over where to take a drop on hole 2 after he hit his third shot over the green and into the bushes. He then dropped the ball on the other side of Pompano Road which was out of bounds.
The Florida resident played from that position and then, suspecting it may be out of bounds, corrected the error by playing another shot from the previous position in the bunker. That decision saved him from a disqualification, although he did finish the hole with a nine.
“I hit it into a bush over the second green which was unplayable and my options there were a replay and a penalty or a two club-length penalty,” Lytle said.
“I didn't want to go two club-lengths and didn't want to replay it, so I went on the other side of the road and asked the guys I was playing with [Barry Lane and Miguel Ángel Martín] ‘is that out of bounds' and they said ‘no, it's not marked'.
“One of them had seen a competitor [defending champion Justin Regier] play from across the road earlier in the tournament, so I went back there and dropped on the tee box and finished the hole.
“Somebody said it was a problem and we checked on it and it ended up being a two-stroke penalty, but there was no marking, no lines and no sticks.”
Lytle admitted that the incident knocked him off his stride.
“It says in the rule sheet that the road is out of bounds,” Lytle said. “It's my fault for not seeing that, however, every tournament I've ever played in, every out of bounds area has been clearly marked.
“It was a mistake on my part but an even bigger mistake on the part of the committee. I would have had a chance if that had not happened.
“There's no chance I'm going to come back and play next year because of the way it's run.”
Andrew Woodworth, the president of the Bermuda Golf Association, stressed that the rules clearly state that Pompano Road is out of bounds.
“The local rules clarify for participants that balls going over Pompano Road, which is outside the boundary of the golf course, is considered out of bounds,” Woodworth said.
“In this case the players didn't see any white stakes and assumed it was in bounds and played it incorrectly, resulting in one disqualification against one player [Regier] and a two-stroke penalty because he [Lytle] corrected his error before finishing the hole.
“Because the boundary is the pavement you can't put stakes in the pavement. In hindsight, putting some marking there will prevent players from making that mistake in the future.”
Through it all, Polland, just 24, kept his composure with a second straight round of 69 to win by two strokes over Lane, of England.
“After the first two days I knew I could have played a lot better,” said Polland, who hails from Minnesota but now works as a PGA professional at Deepdale Golf Club in Long Island.
“I was able to shoot in the 60s the last couple of days and luckily everyone went in the other direction.”
Polland, of Manhasset, New York, was playing two groups ahead of the leaders so the pressure was off him somewhat.
Lane will play in the Grey Goose World Par 3 championships at Turtle Hill this weekend. Yesterday he picked up a cheque for $4,000 while Michael Gligic, of Canada, collected $2,250 for third place. Lytle tied with Martin as both earned cheques for $1,875. The total purse in the tournament was $22,000.