Garcia cleared by Paramour after 'disgusting' talk of rules violation
FURIOUS Sergio Garcia was cleared of any wrongdoing by Europe's top referee after what the Spaniard described as "disgusting" online allegations that he may have broken the rules on Thursday at the HSBC Championship.
If this disturbing episode got proceedings at Abu Dhabi Golf Club yesterday off to a controversial start, Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley and his playing companions, England's Tom Fleetwood and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen, provided comic relief.
For the second day, Fleetwood and Olesen wore near-identical Nike outfits, an astonishing 'coincidence' which led to confusion, then hilarity whenever McGinley said "good shot" to the wrong man.
"It was a laugh for us," said Fleetwood after his 65, which leaves him tied for seventh. "I don't know if we look the same, but obviously when you dress the same it's quite hard."
Fleetwood and Olesen are among several youngsters McGinley believes may press for team places next September.
McGinley followed up Thursday's 68 with a 72 to share 13th place on four-under with Michael Hoey, who had one birdie and 17 pars.
Damien McGrane, Darren Clarke and Gareth Maybin also play this weekend, but Padraig Harrington was among the five Irish who failed to make the cut after a round of 74.
Garcia, meanwhile, was thrust into controversy overnight when video 'evidence', initially posted online by a US golf magazine, showed him tapping-down "a possible spike mark" on the 18th green on Thursday.
In fact, Garcia had repaired a pitch mark before stepping back to allow Martin Kaymer putt. He was completing this legal task in the misleading video, which, after the Simon Dyson 'spike mark' controversy, stirred speculation the Spaniard might be disqualified.
Yet Garcia was exonerated yesterday morning when he and chief referee John Paramour visited the spot on 18 where the repaired pitch mark was still discernable.
"For someone like me, who's never, ever cheated in my life, being related to that word is the most disgusting thing that can happen," Garcia raged.