Haotong Li became the first high-profile player to run afoul of the new rule that bans a caddie from assisting in lining up a shot.
The defending champion at the Dubai Desert Classic, Li was in position for another high finish when officials determined that Li’s caddie stood on a direct line behind his ball when he took his stance on the 18th green. The two-shot penalty turned his birdie into a bogey, his 71 became a 73, and he dropped from a tie for third into joint 12th – the difference of about $100,000.
It’s one of the major changes in the new rules, which went into effect Jan. 1.
The governing bodies decided that the ability to line up a player’s feet and body accurately is a fundamental skill of the game that should be the sole responsibility of the player.
Li did not speak to reporters afterward, but video of the alleged infraction surfaced online: