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Peter Malnati admits late ruling was a ‘great break,’ allowing him to move ball from rough to fringe

“I feel this is a great break, and I want you to be here,” Peter Malnati said to PGA Tour rules official Steve Rintoul during a crucial moment in the closing stretch of his eventual victory in the Valspar Championship Sunday in Palm Harbor, Fla.

Malnati had hit his approach through the green and into a gnarly lie in the rough at the difficult par-4 16th hole at the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort. A difficult up and down loomed. But when Malnati arrived at his ball and tested his stance, he found that he would be standing on a sprinkler head.

According to Rule 24-2 in the Rules of Golf, a player is entitled to relief without penalty from an immovable obstruction for a ball that lies in or on the obstruction or when the obstruction interferes with the intended swing or stance.

NBC Sports on-course reporter Arron Oberholser assessed the situation saying, “this lie is terrible right now, so this could be a huge break.”

Relief in this instance is one club-length from the nearest point of relief but no closer to the hole, and this is where the break indeed was huge for Malnati, who at the time was tied for the lead at 11 under par with Cameron Young.

Malnati pointed to a point near the fringe, and soon after asked Rintoul, “This is the right way to do it, right?” Rintoul confirmed that it was. After measuring out the one club-length, Malnati dropped his ball on the fringe, some 50 feet from the hole.

He ended up two-putting for par to remain tied for the lead and then went ahead with a birdie at the par-3 17th hole from six feet. Malnati won by two strokes when Young bogeyed the 72nd hole. It was Malnati’s second career victory, his first coming 3,059 days earlier at the 2015 Sanderson Farms Championship.

Meanwhile, be careful when you say the Rules of Golf only win up hurting you. Sometimes they actually come in handy!