Thursday 12 December 2019

Graeme McDowell hits out at 'strange little fiddly rules' after two-stroke penalty at Wentworth

Ernie Els of South Africa tees off on the 3rd hole during the first round of the BMW PGA Championship. Photo: Getty Images
Ernie Els of South Africa tees off on the 3rd hole during the first round of the BMW PGA Championship. Photo: Getty Images

GRAEME McDowell received a two-stroke penalty after a 'freak' incident caused him to fall foul of golf's 'strange little fiddly rules'.

The penalty turned the Ryder Cup hero's closing six into a triple bogey eight as he started the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth with a disappointing 74.

McDowell's drive was leaked into the trees and as he went to weigh up his options for his second shot the ball moved.

"I was standing probably from here to you," the Northern Irishman said, indicating a distance of some six feet.

"I'm not sure what I could have done, but I felt something was wrong - the whole area felt like it was just kind of bouncing."

McDowell requested that the incident be reviewed on television, which it was, only for the referee to judge that he had caused the ball to move, incurring a one-shot penalty.

McDowell then failed to replace it to its original position before chipping out, adding one more to his score.

He said: "How are you supposed to attempt to place the ball when you're not sure it's moved in the first place? It's just a harsh one - one of those freak scenarios in golf.

"It's my fault. I probably should have called in a referee. The rules of golf are very precise and very in-depth and it's impossible to know every idiosyncrasy of them.

"I've cost myself a shot there by getting a little careless. Once the ref is there we are protected because we can't do anything wrong at that point - even if he gives you a wrong ruling it's correct because he's told you to do it.

"There's cameras around and so many strange little fiddly rules that we are all so damned scared to take relief.

"It ends up slowing the pace of play down because you have to call a ref and he might be 10 minutes away."

Meanwhile, world No 1 Rory McIlroy finds himself six strokes behind after another poor start to the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth today.

McIlroy's two-over-par 74 included going out of bounds "by an inch" at the long 12th, something that was followed by him throwing a club in what he called "a release of frustration".

Lee Westwood, who lost a play-off to Luke Donald a year ago and is making his 19th attempt to take the title, missed the green and three-putted the third to stand two over.

There were two bogeys after that but also six birdies, three of them in a row from the 12th.

Out on the course, Peter Lawrie was off to a real flyer - an eagle at the fourth like McIlroy and birdies on the second, fifth and sixth to be five under and leader by one.

Donald was among the later starters as he tried to join Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie as the only men to make a successful defence of the trophy.

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