Keegan Bradley pulls out of BMW

ByBob Harig ESPN logo
Sunday, September 7, 2014

CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. -- Keegan Bradley withdrew from the BMW Championship on Saturday due to a potential rules infraction during the first round -- even though a rules official had absolved him of any violation.

Bradley had taken relief from a pitch mark because he believed his ball was embedded on the 18th hole at Cherry Hills Country Club.

Due to a conversation with a fan after the round who advised Bradley that he had seen the ball bounce before coming to rest -- thereby not embedding in its own pitch mark -- the golfer felt uneasy about the situation regarding Rule 25-2 and conferred with Slugger White, the PGA Tour's vice president of rules of competition, on Friday morning.

White told Bradley that there was no violation after the two discussed the circumstances and viewed the pitch mark at the 18th hole. No rules official was consulted at the time and none saw what occurred.

Bradley, who was tied for 41st after rounds of 71-70, decided Saturday morning to withdraw anyway.

Because he will earn no points in the BMW, Bradley is in danger of falling out of the top 30 and missing the Tour Championship next week. Through three rounds, he is projected to be 33rd.

"I just feel withdrawing is the right thing to do to protect the field in the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship next week," Bradley said in a statement. "It is eating me alive. I didn't call my fellow competitors for help in the first place and that bothers me. I know the official approved the drop but I just can't be absolutely sure it was the right spot."

Bradley, who on Tuesday was chosen by captain Tom Watson as one of his at-large picks for the U.S. Ryder Cup team, entered the week 28th in the FedEx Cup standings. The top 30 advance to next week's Tour Championship in Atlanta, the final FedEx Cup playoff event where a $10 million bonus pool awaits the winner of the points race.

"It's eating me alive," Bradley said of the decision.

On Thursday, after hitting his tee shot into the water hazard on the 18th, Bradley's third shot from 233 yards with a 4-iron came up short of the green and embedded in the steep grass just above the left bunker.

He took relief for an embedded ball, believing it was in its own pitch mark. According to Rule 25-2, a ball embedded in its own pitch mark in any closely mowed area through the green may be lifted, cleaned and dropped without penalty, as near as possible to the spot where it lay but not nearer the hole.