Martin Laird was at home in Gullane, Scotland, closing in on the lead at the British Open when it all went wrong.
His mess at Muirfield began with a 2-iron that strayed into nasty, yellow rough right of the fairway. After a couple of hacks — and a couple of penalty shots — he staggered off with a quintuple-bogey 9.
That wasn’t even the worst of his forgettable Saturday. Walking up the 16th fairway, he was told an additional shot was being added for failing to alert all the right people when he moved his ball in the rough on the 10th hole to identify it.
“To say that deflated me, I think would be an understatement,” Laird said.
He ended his long day with an 81 — 12 shots out of the lead.
“Every time I hit a shot that could go one way, it went the other,” Laird said.
Even after chopping his way to a 9 on the third hole, Laird was only 3 over for the tournament. He bounced back with a beautiful 5-iron into the toughest hole, and then made birdie. What gnawed at him was the 10th hole.
In deep rough, Laird marked his ball with a tee and told the marshal who found it that he was going to make sure it was his. One problem. The rules require him to tell playing partner Dustin Johnson or one of the walking officials.
Instead, he violated Rule 12-2 that says, “Before lifting the ball, the player must announce his intention to his ... fellow competitor.”
David Rickman, the rules director for the Royal & Ancient, said letting the spotter know wasn’t enough.
“The rule is very specific,” Rickman said. “It needs to be the fellow competitor. The fellow competitor is there to protect the interests of the rest of the field, and therefore, we are specific about who that needs to be. ”
Worse yet was finding out so deep in a round that had already gone so wrong.
“Walking up 16 when I was told I got a 1-shot penalty on No. 10, I don’t even think rubbing salt in the wounds would do enough to describe it,” Laird said.
Mechanic loses tools
Miguel Angel Jimenez likes to relax with a good cigar and a glass of red wine. He might need something a little stronger after Saturday. “The Mechanic” played solidly over the first two rounds and went into Saturday with a 1-stroke lead.
But he plummeted from contention with a 6-over 77. This one started bad — four bogeys in the first eight holes — and didn’t improve much.
Spieth is still learning
Jordan Spieth, 19, created a stir last weekend by becoming the youngest PGA Tour winner in 82 years. But he’s smart enough to know there’s plenty left to learn. He hobbled to a 5-over 76 Saturday, hurt by bad bounces and worse decisions.
“I wasn’t patient and that was the issue,” he said. “Bad bounces are going to happen out here, but I could have shot 3 shots lower, without even playing any different.”
Despite being 6 over for the tournament, Spieth enjoyed himself, in part because he played alongside Northern Irishman Darren Clarke.
“He’s obviously loved and I can see why. Extremely nice guy, very selfless, he’s rooting for me. It was cool,” he said.