Xander Schauffele was behind a tree, then wasn’t — thanks to ‘2nd opinion’


On the left, Xander Schauffele’s lie after his tee shot. On the right, his lie after a ruling.


Xander Schauffele was blocked by a tree. 

But he apparently would not be denied by a rules official. 

In the end during Saturday’s third round of the WM Phoenix Open, Schauffele birdied the par-5 13th at TPC Scottsdale, and he will start Sunday’s final round four shots back of leader Scottie Scheffler. And a “second opinion” played a part.  

“Just turned six into four,” analyst Frank Nobilo said during the CBS broadcast. 

Tom Kim was mic'd up for the 13th hole by CBS for Saturday's third round.

A caddie override and a laser: Tom Kim’s mic’d up hole was everything you wanted


Jack Hirsh

The sequence began when Schauffele’s tee shot on 13 came to rest maybe a half-foot from the base of a tree. From there, he had no shot forward — he would likely have to play just 90 degrees to the left — but he reportedly had another play. 

According to CBS on-course analyst Mark Immelman, Schauffele believed that he would be standing in an animal hole on the shot, and he sought relief. On the broadcast, CBS cameras showed an indentation in the ground between the ball and the tree, along with a couple other indentations in the nearby area.   

Schauffele, according to Immelman, then made his case to one official, was denied, called for a second official and won. 

“Xander Schauffele had the ball right back up against that palo verde tree, and it was against a root, but he was standing in a burrowing animal hole, so did a whole lot of lobbying with a first rules official and was denied,” Immelman said on the broadcast. “Called in a second opinion and not only got relief, and a swing and a shot.” 

“That’s a massive break,” Nobilo said “… Take anything after that. Second shot being right that tree could be looking at five, six.”

In the rules book, animal holes are covered under Rule 16.1a. It states: “Interference exists when any one of these is true: The player’s ball touches or is in or on an abnormal course condition; an abnormal course condition physically interferes with the player’s area of intended stance or area of intended swing.”

Volunteers clean up trash on the 16th hole during the third round of the WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on February 11, 2023 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

TPC Scottsdale’s 16th was a little flat Saturday. Then the final group saved it


Jack Hirsh

After he was given relief, Schauffele hit about a yard to the left of where his ball had been. From there, with just about 200 yards to the hole, he punched his ball forward, it rolled to the back of the green, and he two-putted for a birdie four. 

At the time, that moved him to within a shot of Scheffler, but Schauffele bogeyed 15 and 16, and he finished with a one-under 71. 

Notably, as Nobilo also pointed out on the broadcast, the 13th was also the hole where, in 1999, Tiger Woods enlisted a small army to help move a boulder in order to hit a shot. 

“My goodness, that is downright robbery,” Immelman said on the broadcast of Schauffele’s birdie.  

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at

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