VIRGINIA WATER, England – Graeme McDowell was left to bemoan the sometimes obscure rules of golf after he was docked two shots on the last hole in a "freak" scenario at the BMW PGA Championship on Thursday.
The former U.S. Open champion was on course to break par in his opening round at Wentworth when he approached the ball after hitting his drive into the bushes to the right of the fairway.
The ball, which was lying on a bed of branches, moved slightly — costing him a shot — and because he didn't replace it, he was handed another penalty stroke by the European Tour referee.
The triple-bogey 8 wrecked his round as he finished with a 2-over 74.
"The rules of golf are very precise and in-depth — it's impossible to know every idiosyncrasy of them," McDowell said.
Experienced players like Lee Westwood, who was in the same three-ball as McDowell, and Ernie Els were also left dumbfounded.
"These rules are funny," Els said. "I've been a professional since 1989 and I should know the rules better than any of these youngsters, and I still ask for a ruling for the simplest things."
Westwood added: "I've never heard of that one. I have sympathy for him."
McDowell said players were becoming "scared" because the rules were so intricate.
"Looking back, I'm not sure what I could have done," he added. "The ball was perched until I got 10 feet from it, and at that point it was too late. It's one of those freak scenarios in golf."