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Harrington maintains his dignity after shock elimination

TRIAL-BY-TV is a phenomenon which affects just 10pc of the players at golf tournaments ... the rest of the field at tour events are able to conduct their business with impunity.

Understandably, quite a few of Harrington's elite professional colleagues consider this unfair.

Yet you won't hear the Dubliner complain, despite his disqualification from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship yesterday after two TV viewers informed the European Tour by e-mail of a transgression so trifling during Thursday's first round 65, it was invisible to the naked eye.

"I want to be on television," said Ireland's three-time Major champion. "I want to have those 10 million people watching me because that means I'm doing well. If I'm not on TV and nobody's watching, I'm missing the cut.

"Becoming a better player brings with it added responsibility and you'd better embrace it," he went on. "Not just with the rules, but also your etiquette, everything like that. That's fair enough."

Harrington learned of his disqualification on arrival at Abu Dhabi Golf Club yesterday morning to begin preparations for his second round.


Like everyone at the seventh green on Thursday, fellow players Martin Kaymer and Louis Oosthuizen and onlookers, including your correspondent, he'd no inkling of any problem.

Harrington felt his finger brush the ball as he took away his marker and he saw it move ever-so-slightly ("maybe three dimples" forward), but then believed it settled back into its resting place, as golf balls usually do.

Yet TV viewers with high-definition pictures and super slow-mo saw Harrington's ball roll about three-tenths of an inch forward, then rock just over one tenth of an inch back.

Had he perceived this minute difference, Harrington was entitled to replace his ball without penalty. So, there was absolutely no advantage in pressing on.

"I was well aware I'd touched it so I checked that the Titleist logo I use to align the ball was still in the same position, pointing towards the target. It was, so I was quite comfortable that the ball had not moved," he said.

After watching the incident on video yesterday morning, he agreed "the ball had moved three dimples forward and back maybe a dimple and a half," adding: "There was no physical way I could tell at the time."

As he didn't add the required two-stroke penalty to his card, Harrington was disqualified for signing for a wrong score.

Irish Independent