Harrington disqualified after failing to properly replace ball

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2011, 4:58 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Three time major-winner Padraig Harrington was disqualified from the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship on Friday after he failed to replace a ball that had moved a fraction of an inch when he picked up his marker during Thursday’s first round.

Harrington was called in before the second round to review video replays of the incident, and accepted his disqualification after acknowledging that his ball moved ever so slightly as he was picking up his coin on the seventh green.

“It looks like it’s moved,” Harrington said. “So I think it’s fair enough that the penalty is there on the face of it.”

Under European Tour rules, the ball must be replaced if the coin causes it to move. A failure to do so results in a two-stroke penalty, and Harrington was disqualified for signing the wrong score after putting down a 3 on the seventh hole. He finished with a 7-under 65 to sit one shot behind leader Charl Schwartzel of South Africa.

“You know what, a lot worse things could happen. You could be five ahead going into the last round,” Harrington joked. “Yeah, it’s disappointing. … It’s an awkward situation. Every time something like this happens, you want to try and gain something from it, learn something from it.”

The Irishman said he clearly remembered the incident and that he knew he had touched the ball when picking up his coin. However, he said that “at that moment I established that the ball hadn’t moved” and therefore didn’t call over the referee.

But tournament organizers said a television viewer e-mailed European Tour officials to point out that the ball had moved from its original decision. After reviewing slow-motion replays of the footage, Harrington said he was forced to agree.

“This morning I came in and watched it on the TV,” he said. “I think with an unbiased view of it, I would comfortably say 99 percent, the ball moved three dimples forward and moved back a dimple, a dimple and a half.”

European Tour referee Andy McFee said he was confident Harrington didn’t deliberately cheat, but that “the fact that Padraig was totally unaware that this ball has moved doesn’t unfortunately help him.”

It is the second time that Harrington has been disqualified from a tournament. In May 2000 at the Benson and Hedges International at the Belfry, England, Harrington led by five shots after three rounds but had failed to sign his first-round card and was disqualified on Sunday morning.

On Friday, he said there wasn’t anything he could have done to avoid the penalty.

“I was well aware of the fact that I touched it,” he said. “So I checked that the Titleist logo to align the ball was still in the same position pointing toward the target and was quite comfortable that the ball had not moved. I’m well aware of the ruling on that situation, and it’s happened many times over the years. And you know, I’m quite comfortable, if you touch a ball and it doesn’t move and you feel it hasn’t moved, it hasn’t moved, and you don’t need to replace it.”

Harrington said he was against changing the rules but said the European Tour might consider modifying the penalty so a player was not disqualified after he “has signed his card and something has come forward that the player could not have been aware about.”

“The rules are good, we abide very well, the players love the fact that we apply them,” he said. “We love the standard that we play by. When we have to stick to that, that’s the best thing about our game.”

Harrington’s disqualification is the latest to be sparked by a viewer.

Two weeks ago, Camilo Villegas was disqualified from the Tournament of Champions after a viewer phoned in to point out that he had swatted away loose pieces of grass while his attempted chip up a slope rolled back toward him – removing objects that could have influenced the movement of the ball.

Villegas handled the disqualification with grace but not all golfers were happy. Ian Poulter, who lost a playoff at the Dubai World Championship after being penalized for dropping the ball on his marker, wasn’t so kind.

“An armchair official tweeted in to get Camilo DQ, what is wrong with people have they got nothing better to do,” he tweeted back then. “Yes, the rules r the rules it was a mistake on Camilo’s behalf, he didn’t know he had done wrong, but people calling in, no 1 likes a snitch.”

But Harrington on Friday said he saw nothing wrong with viewers having a role in keeping golfers honest.

“I’m comfortable with the whole idea that there’s people there watching, and I believe when I’m on the golf course I’m not going to do anything untoward,” he said. “I hope that this many people watch The European Tour. I hope there’s 100 million people watching me play and checking me out. It’s good for the game.”

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.