Dufner penalized for mistakenly picking up ball


Jason Dufner's comeback continues this week in China, but after a couple months on the sidelines, it appears the former PGA champ is a little rusty on the rules.

Dufner hit the fairway on the 18th hole during his opening round at the WGC-HSBC Champions, but his head was seemingly still in Malaysia, site of last week's CIMB Classic. After playing under lift, clean and place conditions at the CIMB, Dufner momentarily thought those rules still applied and picked up his ball to clean it. Alas, the ball is being played down this week in Shanghai, and Dufner's brief lapse earned him a one-shot penalty.

Dufner hasn't played in the U.S. since the PGA Championship in August, when bulging discs in his neck forced him to withdraw in defense of his title. He made his return to competition two weeks ago in Australia, where he finished T-23 at the Perth International, then he tied for 26th last week in Malaysia.

Typically laid back both on and off the course, Dufner didn't break character when discussing the penalty following an even-par 72 that left him five shots off the lead.

"Just one of those things," he told the Associated Press.