Rickie Fowler penalized for dropping ball from wrong height following rule change

MEXICO CITY -- Rickie Fowler was a victim of golf's new rules on Friday when he failed to take a proper drop from knee height during the second round of the WGC-Mexico Championship.

On his first hole of the day, the par-4 10th at Club de Golf Chapultepec, Fowler shanked his second shot out of bounds, meaning he needed to drop from the same place.

It appeared Fowler instinctively dropped from shoulder height, then hit the ball on the green and two-putted for a 6.

But the new rules that went into effect on Jan. 1 require a drop from knee height.

Because Fowler did not correct the mistake -- he is allowed to do so before playing the next shot, without penalty -- he was assessed a one-stroke penalty. That changed his score of double-bogey 6 to a triple-bogey 7.

Fowler said he was unaware he had broken the rule until he got to the green and playing partner Patrick Reed told him there might be an issue.

"Someone had told him that I had maybe dropped from shoulder height,'' Fowler said after shooting 73. "He mentioned that to me. I was like, 'Oh, yeah, I did.' So, I mean, immediately there, there was nothing I could do. I know I didn't drop properly, but just going through the natural kind of progression of what you do with the drop, that's just what you're used to.''

While many of the new rules instituted this year were meant to make the game simpler, this has been a common source of irritation due to the awkward nature of the knee-height drop and the fact that no advantage is gained from dropping at shoulder length.

The specific rule is 14.3b, which says the ball must be dropped in the right way.

Fowler said he had a drop earlier in the year when he was so aware of the new rule due to considerable discussion about it, and he was unlikely to forget. But in the heat of the moment Friday -- and after hitting a poor shot -- he lapsed, quickly dropping, while his caddie, Joe Skovron, didn't see what occurred.

Later, Rory McIlroy also dropped from shoulder height, but he realized the mistake and corrected it before playing. According to the PGA Tour, this was the second such rules violation in 2019, with the first occurring at the Sony Open in Hawaii to a player who qualified for the event.