Otto Disqualified After Run-In With a Stake


Hennie Otto, the man who led the Mercedes Benz South African Open for three rounds before being overtaken by Mark McNulty, was dramatically disqualified from the South African PGA Championship at Woodhill Country Club in Pretoria on Friday after grabbing a share of the early halfway lead.
Otto, who returned a five-under-par 67 to go with his opening 66, had joined American Bruce Vaughan on a 36-hole total of 133 on Friday morning.
However, having left the course he was to receive the fateful phone call from tournament director Theo Manyama to tell him he'd been disqualified.
Officially, Otto's offense was that he signed for an incorrect score, but the reason the score was incorrect was that he had failed to add a two-shot penalty for having moved an immovable obstruction on the fourth hole. The obstruction in question was the 150m marker, a wooden stake, placed next to the fairway.
The local rules stipulate that they are immovable obstructions and if they interfere with a player's swing or stance, he must take a free drop.
It seems that neither Otto or either of his playing partners, Ryan Reid and Ashley Roestoff, were aware of the rule and the way it came to their attention was somewhat freakish.
The incident was being discussed after the round and Shane Howe, who had committed a similar offence in the first round happened to hear. Howe's infraction had been reported to Manyama before he finished his round and the tournament director was able to wait for him to complete his round and tell him to add two shots at the relevant hole to his scorecard. He was thus able to sign for a correct score.
It was only after Howe recounted his tale of woe that one of Otto's playing partners reported the incident on Friday to Manyama. Unfortunately for Otto, his card had long been signed when Manyama found out and he had to be disqualified.
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