Jev... you are correct...and I agree that I have lost plenty of balls on the fairway.
I should have been a little more specific to my statement regarding the rule, as I have never not taken my penalty when I have lost my ball...either in the rough or the fairway... even when there was a guy from the next fairway over, hitting a ball as I was approaching the area where I saw my ball land.
The rule does state that known or virtually certain are the standards to be met. The key word here is the "or". This means you do not have to know for certain, but have a virtual certainty that an outside agency removed it. I guess we would have to have the governing body define "known" and "virtually certain" to be sure we are interpreting it correctly.
What would be the correct interpretation of "known" or "virtually certain"... short of witnessing a guy from 1 fairway over drive up pick up the ball and take off with it?
Make no mistake... I have no intention of picking out what rule or part of a rule that benefits me during a round, especially a lost ball. I believe golf to be a game of personal honor and integrity. I would not even argue the rule during a round to attempt to avoid the penalty. I may have the discussion over a beer to get my playing partner's take on it after.
My point was that the original question posed was specific to a ball lost in the rough and that the 2 stroke penalty should not be applied.
I was pointing out that a good shot on the fairway has a better chance of meeting the "known" or "virtually certain" standard of the rule than the poor shot in the rough or other hazards.
It's my opinion that a ball in the rough that can not be found is more likely lost, then it is an outside agency came and made off with it. I try to keep it simple.
Jev... what's your take on the definition of "known" or "virtually certain"?