Disgraced American golfer Matt Kuchar has been thrown into another controversy over a ruling in the first round of the US PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament which left event host Jack Nicklaus perplexed.
Playing the 17th hole at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Ohio, Kuchar’s drive ended up in the edge of a pitch mark that he and PGA Tour rules official Robby Ware both agreed was not his.
But Kuchar claimed he was entitled to relief because he believed his ball had created a second pitch mark within the original.
Golfers are allowed to a free drop from their own pitch mark but not from one made by another player.
A cameraman was called in so Kuchar could view a replay of the shot, which showed the ball taking a couple of bounces before settling into the other, pre-existing pitch mark.
Kuchar’s playing partner Rickie Fowler agreed with the rules official but Kuchar did not back down.
“That is the most amusing thing I’ve ever seen someone try to get a ruling on,” 18-time major winner and Memorial host Nicklaus said on the TV broadcast.
Kuchar was slammed on social media as a “disgrace” and a “cheat” for attempting to bend the rules and also for wasting significant time arguing with the official.
“I guess it’s not a new embedded ball if it breaks new ground,” Kuchar said sarcastically in a press conference after shooting a one-over-par 73 to sit eight shots behind leader Ryan Moore.
“When looking at the replay I saw in the (camera) it looked like there was potential that it might have broken new (turf).”
English golfer Eddie Pepperell was among the chorus who slammed Kuchar.
“It’s been quite a year for Matt Kuchar as he leads the PGA Tour in both money and shithousery,” Pepperell posted on Twitter.
World No.36 Pepperell was referring to two major scandals the 40-year-old Kuchar has been embroiled in this year.
In February, reports surfaced Kuchar paid a Mexican caddie David Giral Ortiz just US$5,000 when Kuchar won US$1.3 million (A$1.8m) for his victory at the Mayakoba Classic in November.
After a tidal wave of criticism in the media and from fans, the nine-time PGA Tour winner issued a statement in which he apologised and agreed to pay Ortiz US$50,000 (A$70,000).
Kuchar is ninth on the PGA Tour’s all-time moneylist with on-course winnings of US$49.4 million. (A$71.5m)
At the WGC-Match Play in Texas in March, Kuchar again faced backlash when he alerted a rules official to a mistake made by playing opponent Sergio Garcia which cost the Spaniard the hole.
Kuchar contradicted himself after winning that match by saying he “didn’t want to win the hole” that way and advanced to the WGC-Match Play final, which he lost.