VIRGINIA WATER, England (Reuters) - South African Branden Grace shrugged off criticism about a free drop he took 24 hours earlier to maintain his title push in the second round of the $7 million BMW PGA Championship on Friday.
On Thursday, the 29-year-old’s ball became plugged on an awkward upslope in a greenside bunker at the par-four 13th hole.
Grace summoned a rules official, saying his feet were touching rubber at the base of the sand, and the world number 26 was given a free drop.
Last year’s U.S. Masters winner Danny Willett said on his Twitter account: “@EuropeanTour please explain that drop?! Burying feet enough in to get to the base of the bunker”.
Former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley was also less than pleased, saying: “If you twist your feet enough you’re bound to eventually reach the bunker lining.
“That means any time a player wants relief from a poor lie he can simply twist his feet until he reaches the bunker lining. That can’t be right.”
Grace responded by saying that, ultimately, it was down to the official to make the call.
“He thought it was a fair question from my side,” he explained after a second-round 71 gave him a five-under total of 139 to leave him two strokes adrift of clubhouse leaders Thomas Pieters, Francesco Molinari and Scott Jamieson at Wentworth.
“The rule was there for a reason and I used it to my advantage. But that (debate) caught me off my guard a little bit this morning,” said Grace.
“I received a message from Paul this morning saying he’s got nothing against me at all, he just doesn’t agree with the ruling. That was a little bit nicer to hear from him.”
However, Grace acknowledged he had “a little bit of regret’ about the incident.
“I’m one of the guys that always likes to go on social media and Twitter,” he said. “There’s always somebody that writes something negative, whether it’s a player, whether it’s some guys who like you and some guys that don’t like you.
“You always get some good vibes and some bad vibes. I don’t think I did anything wrong.”
Editing by Pritha Sarkar