Friday, April 27, 2018

Ask Linda #1749-Player finds ball within 5 minutes but fails to identify it

Hi Linda
I’d like your ruling on this one...

In match play, a player hits his tee shot into the trees.
Believing it may be lost, he hits a provisional.
He walks to what he believes is his provisional ball and then proceeds to search for 5 minutes (unsuccessfully) for his original ball.
He then returns to what he believed was his provisional only when identifying it to discover it is his original ball (His provisional was further back in the rough).
An official rules that because more than 5 minutes had elapsed, his original ball was lost and he must play his provisional.

My question... As his original ball was found (albeit by him) inside 5 minutes but not identified, is Decision 27/5.5 relevant (that is, was he entitled to play the original ball)?

Many thanks for your always informative responses.

Lou from Melbourne, Australia

Dear Lou,

The official’s ruling was correct. The player’s ball was “lost” under the Rules. While he found the ball within five minutes, he failed to identify it (see “a” under the Definition of “Lost Ball”). By the time he returned to the ball, more than five minutes had elapsed. This is not the same situation as Decision 27/5.5, in which the original ball had not been found yet, so there was no chance for identification. The applicable Decision is 27/5, in which the player has the opportunity to identify the ball and simply fails to do so.

This player’s failure to identify his ball cost him two strokes. I imagine he will be more careful in the future.

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