With a spot in the British Open within his grasp, European Tour veteran David Higgins lost a 3-for-2 playoff in perhaps the cruelest way possible: receiving a two-stroke penalty after discovering a 15th club in his bag.
Higgins finished the 36-hole qualifier at North Berwick at 5-under 137, tied for second place alongside Gareth Wright and George Murray with only three total qualifying spots available. As the playoff got underway, Higgins discovered the extra club in his bag. A two-stroke penalty resulted, and the 41-year-old was eliminated with a double bogey on the first extra hole.
According to tweets from the Irish Golf Desk, Higgins put his clubs back in his car following the afternoon round, assuming that he was done for the day. An extra club was in the car's trunk, and while it remains uncertain whether player or caddie put the club back into the bag, the fact remains that the addition was not noticed until after the playoff began.
A native of Ireland, Higgins missed the cut at The Irish Open last week but tied for 29th at the BMW International Open the week prior. His lone two major championship appearances came in the British Open, as Higgins missed the cut at Carnoustie in 2007 as well as Turnberry in 2009.
The situation was reminiscent of an incident involving Ian Woosnam at the 2001 British Open, when the Welshman opened the final round at Royal Lytham with a birdie to briefly grab a share of the lead. Upon arriving at the second tee, though, Woosnam realized his bag contained 15 clubs. A two-shot penalty turned the birdie into a bogey, and the former Masters champion ultimately finished in a tie for fourth, four shots behind eventual winner David Duval.