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Golf authorities change rule that led to Harrington disqualification

Golf's governing bodies have changed the ruling which cost Padraig Harrington disqualification after an opening 65 in Abu Dhabi in January.

Harrington had already signed his scorecard when a television viewer raised the issue of his ball moving as he marked it on a green - and because of that the punishment could not just be a two-stroke penalty.

Now the Royal and Ancient Club and the United States Golf Association have announced a new interpretation to apply "in limited circumstances not previously contemplated" where disqualifications have been caused by scorecard errors identified as the result of recent advances in video technologies.

It covers the situation where a player is not aware he has breached a rule because of facts that he did not know and could not reasonably have discovered prior to returning his scorecard.

Under this revised decision and at the discretion of the committee, the player still receives the penalty associated with the breach of the underlying rule, but is not disqualified.

In revising the decision, the two organisations confirm that the disqualification penalty still applies for scorecard breaches that arise from ignorance of the Rules of Golf.

The new ruling will start to be applied in The Masters today.

Peter Dawson, R&A chief executive, said: "For some time we have been concerned that, in certain limited circumstances, disproportionate disqualification penalties have been required by the rules.

"This carefully considered decision reflects our desire to ensure that the rules of golf remain fair and relevant in the changing environment in which the game is played today."

PA Media