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Penalized for failing to properly replace his ball, golfer agonizingly loses chance of first ever PGA Tour card

Blink and you would have missed it, but Shad Tuten’s fateful decision to move his ball mere inches on Sunday excruciatingly cost him his dreams of a spot on the PGA Tour . The American golfer had finished his closing round at the season-ending Korn Ferry Tour Championship in Newburgh, Indiana looking set to secure his first ever PGA Tour card. Despite ending on a bogey, a two-over 74 round put Tuten tied-19th, just enough to nudge him inside the top 30-ranked players on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List and subsequently secure membership for the 2024 PGA Tour season.

Yet the 31-year-old was not among the group that launched their ‘graduation’ caps into the air on Victoria National Golf Club’s 18 th green shortly after, as a two-stroke penalty lifted his score to four-over 76, bumping him to tied-28 th on the leaderboard and to No.32 on the Points List. Tuten was penalized for failing to properly replace his ball en route to a birdie at the par-five 15th hole.

Wet weather had seen the adoption of the Local Rule for Preferred Lies ( Model Rule E-3 ) during the final round, which allows players to “mark, lift, clean and replace the ball in the general area” to combat issues such as mud sticking to the ball. That is, as long as players place the ball back in precisely the same spot. Video from the 15th fairway showed Tuten doing so as permitted, only to then reach back and shift his ball slightly to the right.

It was a matter of mere inches, but a matter enough for rules officials to intervene and lift the birdie to a bogey. “I think it’s pretty clear in the video that when he placed it one time, the ball rolled forward a little bit,” Korn Ferry Tour Vice President of Rules, Competition and Administration Jim Duncan told NBC Sports.

“Unfortunately, that rule requires you to try to replace it on the exact same spot again, and then if it won’t stay at rest that’s when you find the nearest place that you do, just like any other rule that requires placing. “When he did not try to place that ball right back on the same spot, that’s when he was under penalty – two shots for playing from the wrong place.”

CNN has reached out to the Korn Ferry Tour to contact Tuten for comment.

Former PGA Tour player James Nitties described the incident as “heartbreaking.”

“It makes me sick as a past player,” Nitties said on the Golf Channel broadcast. “Probably didn’t even know he was doing it … That is so unfortunate.”

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It struck a bitter blow to Tuten, whose wait for an appearance at a PGA Tour event continues. The Georgia-born golfer has played 132 tournaments on the Korn Ferry Tour and PGA Tour Latinoamérica since turning professional in 2015, winning once, and ends the season as world No. 362.

France’s Paul Barjon shot 14-under to win and take home a trophy alongside his new PGA Tour membership, with Puerto Rico’s Rafael Campos leapfrogging Tuten to clinch the 30 th and final card. Eighteen of the graduates are PGA Tour rookies, including brothers Parker and Pierceson Coody, who became only the second twins in history to attain simultaneous PGA Tour membership status after Allan and Curtis Strange in 1981. © 2023 Cable News Network. A Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All Rights Reserved. CNN Sans ™ & © 2016 Cable News Network. Credit – CNN

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