BARELY 24 hours into the new PGA Tour season, professional golf has once again been rocked by a rules controversy. Colombia's Camilo Villegas was disqualified yesterday morning from the the Hyundai Championship, getting his 29th birthday off to a distinctly sour start.
Alerted overnight by a sharp-eyed TV viewer, rules officials were left with no option but to disqualify Villegas after reviewing an incident which took place at the 15th hole during his one-under par round of 72 on Thursday.
Villegas was chipping up the slope to the 15th green when the ball twice rolled back at him. The second time, he absent-mindedly swatted away a loose grass divot as his ball was still rolling down the slope in clear violation of Rule 23-1
Villegas should have taken a one-shot penalty, so was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard.
With so much attention focused on how Graeme McDowell would perform with his new Srixon irons, golf balls and Cleveland wedges, the Portrush man struggled with his driver as he hit a first-round 71 at the Plantation Course.
"Drove it awful," McDowell tweeted from Hawaii. "New irons were fantastic. Greens had me confused."
There's the rub: McDowell is still using the reliable old Callaway driver which played such a vital part in his heroics at the US Open, Ryder Cup and Chevron World Challenge last year. He was tied 19th, five shots off leaders Jonathan Byrd and Carl Petterson on seven-under going into the second round.