‘Downright robbery’: Xander Schauffele birdies after benefitting from second ruling

‘Downright robbery’: Xander Schauffele birdies after benefitting from second ruling
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Xander Schauffele will begin Sunday’s final round of the WM Phoenix Open four shots behind leader Scottie Scheffler.

The deficit, however, could’ve been more if not for a fortunate ruling during Saturday’s third round at TPC Scottsdale, where Schauffele’s tee ball at the par-5 13th hole ended up against a tree trunk before a second opinion by a rules official allowed Schauffele to take free relief and turn a likely bogey into a birdie.

“Schauffele had the ball right back up against that palo verde tree, and it was against a root, but he was standing in a burrowing animal hole, so did a whole lot of lobbying with a first rules official and was denied,” CBS on-course reporter Mark Immelman said on the broadcast.

“Called in a second opinion and not only got relief, and a swing and a shot.”

Schauffele benefitted from Rule 16.1a, which addresses burrowing animal holes and states, “Interference exists when any one of these is true: The player’s ball touches or is in or on an abnormal course condition; an abnormal course condition physically interferes with the player’s area of intended stance or area of intended swing.”

After initially being denied a free drop, Schauffele, courtesy of the second rules official, dropped in the desert sand, left of the tree, 202 yards away from the hole. He then found the back of the putting surface with his second shot before two-putting from 54 feet for birdie.

“My goodness, that is downright robbery,” Immelman added after Schauffele rolled in the 5-footer.

Schauffele’s luck, though, wouldn’t continue. He didn’t card a bogey the rest of the round, and bogeys at Nos. 15 and 16 led to a 1-under 71, which put Schauffele in a tie for sixth at 9 under.

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