HAIKOU, China – Colin Montgomerie’s failure to read the local rules sheet cost the Scot a chance to win $1.28 million on Sunday at the Mission Hills Star Trophy.
Less than a month since captaining the victorious European Ryder Cup team, Montgomerie appeared headed to a playoff with Lorena Ochoa only to be penalized two strokes for a rules infraction at Blackstone’s 16th hole.
The incident occurred when Montgomerie’s drive finished a couple of yards behind an advertising sign in the fairway, which blocked the player’s second shot to the hole. Montgomerie’s caddie, Jason Hempleman, and a marshal pulled the sign out of the ground in breach of a local rule.
“Under the conditions of this competition, which are given to every player, the advertising signs (are) temporary immovable instructions,” tournament director David Parkin said. “You can't move them. Unfortunately for Colin, his caddie has helped in the movement of this board. As soon as he moved that it's a two-stroke penalty under our conditions.”
Montgomerie conferred for several minutes after his round with Parkin before signing his card.
Earlier, Parkin approached Montgomerie on the 18th tee to inform the player of the problem. Montgomerie was clearly livid: “David, please don’t start this,” he said.
“Nobody else has moved them,” Parkin said of the signs.
Montgomerie’s penalty overshadowed Ochoa’s victory in the 36-hole tournament contested by nine men and nine women. It was an emphatic return to competition by Ochoa in her first tournament since semi-retiring in May.