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Golfer Gets Penalty for Stolen Ball

June 19, 1998

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A ball thief may have cost Paul Simson, an amateur playing in his first U.S. Open, a one-stroke penalty in Thursday’s first round.

Simson, vice president of an insurance agency from Raleigh, N.C., was 2-under after the front nine but hit his tee shot on the 10th hole through a tree left of the fairway.

Two spectators told USGA official Ron Reed they saw the ball bounce off the tree and land on the ground between the ninth and 10th holes, where a fan appeared to pick up the ball.

Simson, his caddie and several spectators searched for the ball, even climbing into a tree to look for it. After having no luck, Simson went back to the tee and played another ball, taking a one-shot penalty and eventually shooting a triple-bogey 7 on the hole.

Reed said Simson perhaps should have been allowed a free drop in the vicinity of where the spectators saw the ball land, since the Rules of Golf provide for such a ruling in cases when a ball is moved or stolen.

Since Simson had returned to the tee and played another ball, the possibility of a free drop was wiped out. He finished at 6-over 76 for the round.

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