Had a situation on the other day where a player opened with a long drive (250m+) on a a par 4 with lateral water hazard on the left side. The drive was slightly curving to the right, but going towards the water hazard. Unable to see exactly where it landed the group estimated that if it wasn't found from the given area it would be virtually certain for ball to be in the water hazard.
The search was not successful and ball was dropped under rule 26-1c and the player played the ball. When we proceeded towards the hole the original ball was found (within 5 minutes from the start of the search) just a little bit further from the area we were searching the ball and it was outside the water hazard.
I'm having difficulties to interpret decisions 26-1/3 and 26-1/3.5 which both would seem to be applicable for the situation. By the decision 26-1/3 the ball was played from the wrong place and it would result in penalty of two strokes. Also given that the drive was very long the player might be eligible for DQ under rule 20-7c.
On the other hand decision 26-1/3.5 describes similar situation with the one stroke penalty under 26-1c. What's the main difference between the decisions? Is it that for 26-1/3 the player only believed that the ball was in water hazard and wasn't virtually certain?
I think the group made a mistake by being virtually certain that the ball was in the hazard, but what would be the correct ruling given that virtually certain was established even though it was a wrong call?