A great example of exactly what to do when given a ruling.
At the Canadian Open Justin Thomas hits a nice drive down the middle of the fairway. Rory then hits and his tee shot, also straight down the middle, hits JT’s. What do you do?
JT’s ball has been moved by an “outside influence” (i.e. Rory’s moving ball) and it must be replaced on its original spot. (Rule 9.6). They have the benefit of TV cameras to help identify exactly where it was before it was moved – if it was you or I viewing this from the tee we would have to make our best estimate of where the ball was and place it there.
The two balls would then have been so close together that one would have to be lifted and replaced to allow the other to be played. Rory & JT very sensibly agreed between them for Rory to play first, even though JT was farther from the hole – any divot Rory took would not disturb JT’s lie, but if JT took a divot he might change Rory’s lie and so create the need for another ruling.
A few things to note:
They were uncertain what to do: They weren’t sure what to do, so did nothing until the Rules Official arrived – always sensible. However most of us don’t have a Rule Official handy. If this had happened to you in a strokeplay competition and you weren’t sure whether or not to replace the ball you can use Rule 20.1c to play 2 balls – make sure you announce which one you would like to count if it is allowable under the rules before you hit either ball. Play out the hole and then seek a ruling from the committee before you return your scorecard – even if you scored the same with both balls.
(Not) Cleaning the Ball: The Rules Official seems to tell JT not to clean his ball and so picked it up between forefinger and thumb and then laid it down on the course so that it was obvious that he was not cleaning it (3:20 – 3:27 into the video). This is very good practice whenever you are allowed to lift, but not clean the ball.
An error by the Rules Official? It is good practice for a Rules Official to tell a player not to clean their ball (at about 3:22 into the video) if they aren’t allowed to – trying to prevent an unnecessary penalty. However I think that JT would actually have been allowed to clean his ball before replacing it as it had been moved by an outside influence and had not been replaced on its original spot. If he had replaced the ball and then marked and lifted it to allow Rory to play he would not then have been allowed to clean it, so it is a very understandable mistake by the RO (I am also very happy to be corrected on this if I am mistaken). The times when a lifted ball may not be cleaned are listed in Rule 14.1c as follows:
Unusual? Yes. Unique? No! But enjoy the video.