Russell Henley walked off the course at the Mayakoba Golf Classic on Saturday morning with a solid 2-under 69, and was in a great position heading into the final two rounds of the annual PGA Tour stop in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
Yet after the round, Henley realized he had made a grave mistake.
While looking through his golf bag, attempting to find a golf ball to sign and give away to a fan, Henley realized that he had accidentally used a different type of Titleist Pro V1x ball during the round — a clear violation of the Tour’s “One Ball Rule.”
“It was a small dash, a different way it was marked that would have been easy to overlook,” rules official Brad Fabel said, via the PGA Tour. “He came to us and said he didn’t know how it had gotten in his bag.
Golfers are traditionally allowed to switch balls after each hole on the course, however the “One Ball Rule” is often used at Tour stops and other high-profile tournaments. That rule requires players to use the same brand and type of ball throughout the entire round.
Henley isn’t sure where the ball came from — it wasn’t one of the balls he intended to use on Saturday — but he is positive he used it in play on Nos. 9-12.
The rules officials on site “researched it pretty thoroughly” after Henley brought the infraction to their attention, and even consulted a USGA official, too. Finally, it was determined that the four pars Henley made on Nos. 9-12 would be changed to double bogeys.
His once-impressive 69 had suddenly become a 6-over 77, enough to cause him to miss the cut after all.
Henley, a three-time Tour winner, hasn’t had the best start to the season this fall. While he’s made the cut in his first four events before Mayakoba, he failed to finish inside the top-37. He had made eight cuts in a row dating back to last season, however, starting with a runner-up finish at the John Deere Classic in July.
While the news isn’t what Henley wanted to hear, Fabel said he handled himself extremely well.
“He was great,” Fabel said, via the PGA Tour. “I’ve got a ton of respect for that gentleman.”
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