Stickers on two clubs lead to eight-shot penalty for Ben Crane

By T.J. Auclair
Published on
Stickers on two clubs lead to eight-shot penalty for Ben Crane

UPDATED: Crane was disquailified on Friday morning before the start of his second round for failure to mention the infractions to his playing partners on Thursday. You can hear Crane explain the situation here:

Ben Crane shot a 5-over 76 in the first round of the Tour's Albertsons Boise Open on Thursday. That has him alone in 132nd place in the 133-man field.

Interestingly, he played the final 16 holes in 3-under par after making quadruple-bogey 8s on the 10th and 11th holes, his first two holes of the day.

Wait. What?

It turns out that Crane received two, four-shot penalties on those first two holes -- which would have been pars otherwise, meaning he'd be tied for 37th at 3 under -- for non-conforming clubs.

Crane's crime? After playing the 10th hole he noticed a tiny dot sticker on his driver while on the 11th tee box. Crane uses the stickers during practice sessions to help his launch monitor track data.

RELATED: Lexi Thompson assessed four-stroke penalty while leading ANA Inspiration

Crane brought the sticker to the attention of a rules official and was assessed a four-stroke penalty for using a non-conforming club. Had Crane noticed the the sticker before putting out on the 10th hole, the penalty would have only been two shots. But, since he was between holes, he had to take the two-stroke penalty for each hole.

Later, on the 14th hole, Crane noticed that his 6-iron -- which he hadn't yet hit -- also had a sticker on it. There, he received a second four-stroke penalty that went back to the 11th hole, which is the maximum amount punishable under rule 4-2: Playing Characteristics and Foreign Material, which states:

Stroke play: Two strokes for each hole at which any breach occurred; maximum penalty per round is 4 strokes -- two strokes at each of the first two holes at which any breach occurred.

Match play or stroke play: If a breach is discovered between the play of two holes, it is deemed to have been discovered during play of the next hole, and the penalty must be applied accordingly.

In Crane's case, the infraction happened with two different clubs, hence the eight strokes. Had he used either club, he would have been disqualified.

It was a big blow for Crane. The five-time PGA Tour winner is playing the Tour Finals for the first time after finishing No. 147 in the PGA TOUR's 2016-17 FedExCup standings.

Crane made the cut 18 times in 26 starts on the PGA Tour this season with just one top 10. Since he finished between 126-200 on the FedExCup List, he was eligible for the Finals. He needs to finish inside the top 50 in money in the Web finals -- a four-tournament series -- to secure a Tour card for next season.

While Crane is behind the 8-ball to start round 2 in Boise, he's still currently T6 on the list of 50 having finished T6 in the Finals-opener at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship.

Here's Crane talking about what happened on Thursday:

And here are a couple of Crane's tweets from after the round: