Thanks to English golfer Paul Casey, golf fans around the world have learned one very odd rule that could have cost the European Open champ his victory.
In the second round of the tournament, which took place in Hamburg, Germany on September 6, Casey hit a stroke that sent the ball rolling right over what appears to be a very tiny caterpillar before landing in the hole.
But the 42-year-old golfer had no idea that the bug was there, and his ignorance saved him a penalty of having to do the stroke over again.
In a video shared by the European Tour on Twitter, Casey explained the very specific rule. “I putted the ball, when I looked up, the ball was going in the hole, just crept in, left edge,” he said, adding that when he was shown a video of the playback, he saw the ball rolling “straight over the poor bug.”
“Hopefully I didn’t hurt him,” Casey said.
“If you knowingly hit an animal — a bug is considered an animal — during the course of a stroke, certainly on the putting green, you have to replay it. I didn’t knowingly hit it, so I’m all right. Almost a rules infraction and I had no clue, so you know, ants and bugs and beetles, we’ve gotta protect them.”
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) September 6, 2019
Per Golf Monthly, Rule 11.1-B Exception 2 states as follows: “When Ball Played from Putting Green Accidentally Hits Any Person, Animal or Movable Obstruction (Including Another Ball in Motion) on Putting Green: The stroke does not count and the original ball or another ball must be replaced on its original spot.”
But there’s a clarification on that rule, which is “to be applied using the ‘known or virtually certain’ standard. Therefore, if there is knowledge or conclusive evidence that the ball played from the putting green accidentally hit a person, animal or movable obstruction on the putting green, the stroke does not count.”
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Luckily, as Casey said in the video, he was safe from a penalty since there wasn’t knowledge he had accidentally hit the little creature.
The athlete went on to win the tournament, and shared his excitement at his victory with a September 8 post on Instagram, writing in the caption, “Porsche European Open Champion! ”
His win on Sunday marks the athlete’s 14th European Tour title, according to Golf Monthly.