Wyndham Clark on verge of a “cheating controversy” as fans call out his subtle divot change

U.S. Open - Round Two
Wyndham Clark, US Open 2024 (Image via Getty).

Wyndham Clark was involved in a new controversial play that has generated many reactions among fans. A number of social media users brought attention to the play, which happened on the tenth hole during the third round of the ongoing U.S. Open.

In the images available, Clark can be seen executing a wedge shot on a greenside slope of Pinehurst No. 2. Clark's shot wasn't great, as the ball rolled down the slope practically back to where it was initially.

As the ball rolled back, Clark was seen stepping on the divot, in what some fans have noted as an attempt to fix his lie. The ball ultimately ended up not in the divot, but several inches to the left.

Many fans have reacted to this play by bringing the matter to the attention of the United States Golf Association (USGA) via social media. One fan posted the following on X (formerly Twitter):

"@USGA Hole 10 after first chip by Wyndham Clark he quickly flattend his divot hole with his foot when the ball was rolling towards it. Is that allowed? @usopengolf"

Another user posted the following:

"Wyndham Clark took a 2nd swipe and made a huge divot, then saw his ball coming back to possibly finish in the hole he dug, and stepped on it quickly to repair it. Should be a penalty."

Let's take a look at some other reactions on X:

"Wyndham Clark pats down a divot as his ball rolls back toward his feet, but no penalty for improving his (possible) lie because the rule now depends on “intent”. He said he didn't “intend” to improve his lie, so he gets a free pass #USOpen," a fan posted.
"Wyndham Clark got some splainin' to do," another user wrote.
"So Wyndham Clark gets a pass with a rules infraction…Why? @usopengolf," another fan asked.

Clark was involved in a similar situation during the 2024 Arnold Palmer Invitational, when rules officials evaluated his second shot on the 18th hole of the third round for possible lie improvement with his club. At that time, it was concluded that there was no violation of the rule.

Clark has posted rounds of 73, 71, and 71 at the 2024 US Open. With the third day remaining, the defending champion is T32 with a score of 5 over.

What do the rules say about Wyndham Clark's play?

The situation involving Clark is provided for in Rule 11.3 established by the USGA. The rule prohibits players from taking a number of actions when the ball is in motion. Among those actions is the following:

"Replacing a divot or pressing down a raised area of turf."

The rule also cautions the following:

"The player is in breach of this Rule for taking these deliberate actions even if the action does not affect where the ball comes to rest."

The penalty established for the violation of this rule is two strokes added to the score of the offender.

So far, the U.S. Open authorities have not made any pronouncements on this matter. For the moment, Clark's score for the round (1 over) is official.

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Edited by Pratham K Sharma
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