Morgan thought his approach shot had ended up in the water hazard and walked over to the
drop zone to take a drop under penalty of one stroke. Thank goodness, before he dropped the ball, the
crowd yelled that the ball wasn’t in the water, but instead had embedded in the rough.
If Morgan had dropped his ball, he would have had to go ahead and play it, hitting three.
Instead, with a local rule in effect that allowed for relief for an embedded ball through the green
(anywhere on the course except in a hazard, putting green or the tee of the hole in play), Morgan got to
lift, clean his ball and take a drop.
In most events, a player has to find the embedded ball in closely mown places—areas cut to
fairway heighth. If that had been the rule, Morgan likely would have had to take an unplayable lie and
accept a one-stroke penalty before taking the drop.
Making things a little more interesting, there were two balls embedded inches apart that were
the same model and number. Thankfully, Morgan always puts an identification mark on his ball and he
was able to accurately identify his ball as the first one he lifted. The other ball was considered a
Without the ID mark and unable to tell which ball was his, Morgan would have had to accept a
penalty for a lost ball and return to the tee.
So if you think there is a chance your ball may be on the other side of the hazard, you can not
play a provisional ball and then go look. When that ball is dropped, you have accepted the penalty. Yes,
even if you find the ball on the other side.
If you think your ball may be lost outside the hazard, then you can play a provisional ball and
check to see if you can find it. If the original ball is found, it is the ball in play and you abandon the
In the 2010 British Open, Mark Calcavecchia suffered a 9 on the fifth hole at St. Andrews in the third round when he ran into a problem dealing with a provisional ball. He elected to hit a provisional after he hit into the deep rough. Then it appeared his ball was found. So he picked up the provisional. However, it turned out that the ball found was not his. He had to go back in the area where the provisional ball had
been and add a penalty stroke.