VIRGINIA WATER, Surrey – While Ernie Els improved his reputation in the opening round of the $7 million BMW PGA Championship, fellow South African Branden Grace was left defending his after an incident on the 13th hole at Wentworth. 
Els called a two-shot penalty on himself after suspecting he’d played from a wrong place on the 12th hole. Grace incurred the wrath of his peers for getting relief in a bunker on the 13th hole. 
After eagling the 12th hole to get to 6-under-par and into a tie for the lead, Grace’s approach shot to the par-4, 13th plugged in the upslope of a greenside bunker. The South African began twisting his feet into the sand before calling for a rules official.
Grace said his feet were touching the rubber lining underneath the sand and he couldn’t take a proper stance.
USGA rules official Mark Hill gave Grace a free drop as a result. Instead of the double bogey that might have ensued, Grace only dropped one shot.
Paul McGinley criticised Grace’s action during television commentary and afterwards.
 “It was ridiculous,” McGinley said. “If you twist your feet enough you’re bound to eventually reach the bunker lining. That means anytime a player wants relief from a poor lie he can simply twist his feet until he reaches the bunker lining. That can’t be right.” 
Danny Willett took to twitter to complain. He tweeted: “@EuropeanTour please explain that drop?! Burying feet enough in to get to the base of the bunker???”
Fellow Englishman Daniel Brooks also had reservations about the ruling. “Wow strangest drop I’ve ever seen there,” he tweeted.
Grace also bogeyed the 16th to finish with a 4-under-par 68 to lie two shots off the lead. 
“I actually knew the ruling from a couple of years ago in China at the HSBC (WGC-HSBC Champions), Grace said. “My ball was found outside the bunker, but the only stance I had was inside the bunker and the same thing happened. I tried to take the stance, I didn’t create a stance in that instance. When I took the stance, there was only one or two inches of sand and my foot kept sliding on the material, the rubber, underneath the sand. 
“A rule is a rule, and I took advantage of the rule there, and it helped knowing the rule in some respects. 
“Fortunately for me, I got away with a good drop but I still made bogey.
“The rules are there for a reason. Sometimes it works in your advantage, and sometimes it doesn’t. In this case it did.