HAIKOU, China –Ryuji Imada was penalized 26 strokes in the first round of the Mission Hills Star Trophy on Saturday.
Imada received 13 separate two-stroke penalties because, like Dustin Johnson at the PGA Championship, he failed to read the local rules sheet.
Due to the soft state of the Blackstone course, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their balls. Imada assumed this meant within one club length of the original position, as is standard procedure on the PGA Tour.
However, the European and Asian Tours use the length of one scorecard as a measurement. It wasn’t until the 12th hole that fellow competitor Danny Lee noticed Imada was breaking the rule and informed him.
After the round, Imada conferred with tournament director David Parkin. He could not remember exactly how many times he had broken the rule, but took an educated guess that it was a maximum of 13.
Parkin accepted that figure and instructed Imada to add 26 strokes and sign for a 24-over 97.
“I’m an idiot,” said Imada, who admitted he had not read the local rules sheet.
Without the penalties, Imada would have been tied for the lead in the 36-hole event being contested by 18 professionals – nine men and nine women.
Imada wasn’t the only player to screw up. Nick Faldo was disqualified for picking up his ball after missing a putt at the eighth hole.
Evidently, he forgot that the pro-celebrity format includes a professional only competition. He didn’t realize the mistake until after teeing off at the next hole by which time it was too late to rectify.