Painful DQ an hour after the round is over puts an end to pro’s Q-School run

While the PGA Tour has recently seen a slowdown in activity, with the exception of this week’s CJ Cup, which features a strong field, many players from lower-tier tours are competing for status at various Q-schools.

After a successful season on the PGA Tour Canada, former University of Texas All-American Gavin Hall was vying for a spot on the Korn Ferry Tour on Tuesday. After shooting 66 in the first round of the second stage of Q-School at the Plantation Preserve Golf Club in Florida, Hall appeared to be off to a solid start.

That is, until he was disqualified for a rule violation he was unaware of an hour or so after his round ended.

A member of the group’s caddy contacted the rules officials after the round to inform them of a potential infraction on the sixth hole, according to a report from Firepit Collective’s mini-tour insider Ryan French.

The sixth hole at Plantation Preserve is a short dogleg left par four with water down the left. If you take on too much on the dogleg and rinse your tee shot, there is nowhere to drop in the fairway because your ball’s final entry position would be back near the tee.

Hall struck his tee shot down the left side, and all three players watched the ball splash, according to the South Florida PGA tournament director (the PGA Tour often allows local PGA sections to run qualifying phases of Q-schools and other qualifiers like it). Hall re-teed, which meant that even if he recovered the ball, he would have to play the second tee ball because he was claiming it lost in the penalty area. Hall wasn’t taking a substitute. A provisional ball is not permitted under Rule 18.3(a) if the player knows that the only location where the original ball may be lost is in a penalty area. Instead, a ball played from the location of the previous stroke becomes the player’s ball in play with a stroke and distance penalty.

When a ball “might be lost in a penalty area but also might be lost somewhere else on the course,” a player is permitted a provisional. This was not the case in Hall’s instance since Hall most likely would have located the ball quickly if it had not been in the penalty area.

Hall’s first ball was unexpectedly located on the bank of the penalty area by the caddie after Hall and his caddie strolled down the fairway. Hall put his initial ball back into the fairway seemingly oblivious of the restriction and went up-and-down for a wild 4. or what Hall believed to be a 4. Up until that time, nobody in the group had questioned Hall’s choice to play the opening ball.

According to French, here is when things became complicated.

On the following tee, another caddy in the group allegedly mentioned something about Hall possibly breaking the rules, but it was too quiet for Hall to hear. Hall would be automatically disqualified as he started playing the seventh hole. He still had time to use rule 3-3, which permits players to play another ball if they are doubtful of the outcome, by returning to the 6th fairway. Hall most likely would have salvaged a bogey or double while working out the problem later had he done it. (UPDATE: French provided more information, which he shared on Twitter Wednesday night. The player and the caddy in issue both said they told Hall about the infringement as they were heading to the 6th green.)

Unfortunately, Hall continued to play while oblivious to his infraction; he birdied his final three holes and declared what he thought was a score of 66. French said that there was no discussion of the circumstances surrounding the scoring by any of the three players or caddies in the group. (UPDATE: In French’s update, the caddy said that he did speak to a player in the group on hole 18 but claimed that he did not bring up the offense to officials during the round or in the scoring area.)

However, French said that over an hour after Hall completed his round, the caddy who had questioned the decision on the 7th tee contacted a rules officer, who had to inform Hall that he had been disqualified.

With 54 holes remaining, Hall’s 66 would have put him in a tie for 12th. The top 18 finishers and ties from the second stage will move on to the final qualifying round next month.

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