Padraig Harrington Encounters a Rare Rules Situation Courtesy of a Moth

Published 11/06/2021, 3:55 PM EDT
Golf – The 2020 Ryder Cup – Whistling Straits, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, U.S. – September 23, 2021 Team Europe captain Padraig Harrington stands on the 5th green during a practice round REUTERS/Mike Segar


Golf is a game that is said to have complicated rules, and every minute thing can create chaos. Well, Padraig Harrington experienced this recently during the second round of the European Tour’s Portugal Masters. Notably, Harrington is currently T19 after round three. He finished the moving day with a score of -6 and is ten behind the leader. 

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Meanwhile, the Team Europe skipper faced an unfortunate incident during the second round of this event. In fact, not only did the unusual act delay the play, but it also sparked a heavy discussion between him and the rules official. Let us see what exactly happened.

Padraig Harrington gets into a rules debate because of a moth!

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During the second hole at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura, Portugal, Padraig had a five-footer for par. Moreover, he made the putt with ease, but not before it had a close encounter with a moth. The moth was sitting on the lip of the hole, and it flew as the ball came in close to the hole. 

So now the question stands: Did Harrington’s ball touch the moth before going in the cup? Because if the ball had touched the moth, the putt becomes null and void. And hence, Harrington got into a debate with the rules official. 

“The ball was going into the lip—you know what, this could be a second apart, but it looked really close,” Harrington explained to the official. “The butterfly kind of went away from the ball, but I don’t think they made contact.”

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What do the rules say?

Meanwhile, under Rule 11. b Exception 2, “When ball played from putting green accidentally hits any person, animal, or movable obstruction (Including another ball in motion) on putting green. The stroke does not count, and the original ball or another ball must be replaced on its original spot.”

Golf – European Tour – BMW PGA Championship – Wentworth Golf Club, Virginia Water, Britain – September 9, 2021 Ireland’s Padraig Harrington during the first round Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

But here, it wasn’t clear, and it was difficult to conclude with anything. However, after a prolonged conversation, the rules official deemed Harrington’s putt legal and said it hasn’t touched the moth. Hence, thankfully, there was no need to replay the putt, and he continued his round with relief.  

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Amey Kulkarni

523 articles

Amey Kulkarni is a Golf writer at EssentiallySports. He is currently pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in mass media from HR College, Mumbai. Before joining EssentiallySports he used to write articles on Golf and Cricket on his personal blog cricgolf.

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