Hollow victory for Harrington on rules front
Padraig Harrington had a win of sorts yesterday before a ball was struck at The Masters, writes Karl MacGinty.
The R&A and USGA have moved to implement a new rule preventing players from being disqualified for rule infractions they could not possibly have known they committed.
Harrington was disqualified from the Abu Dhabi Championship in January when he inadvertently brushed his ball with his finger on the seventh green during his first-round 65.
The Dubliner believed the ball had oscillated forward and then back into its indent in the grass. However, high-definition TV replays revealed it had moved a couple of 'dimples' forward and just one back, meaning Harrington was liable for a two-stroke penalty for playing his putt from the wrong place.
As this was discovered after Harrington had posted his card, he was disqualified for signing for a wrong score.
In future the penalty can be added, the player's round score amended and he will not be disqualified for "score card errors identified as a result of recent advances in video technologies", according to a release issued by the two international governing bodies yesterday.
Other possible breaches which might register on high-definition TV but be imperceptible to the naked eye include the faintest double-hit out of deep rough or a clubhead brushing a few grains of sand on the backswing in a bunker.
The new definition would not have applied to Camilo Villegas in Kapalua, however.
While the Colombian's breach was picked up on TV long after his round, it was his duty to be aware that it is prohibited by rule to move objects out of the likely path of his ball, in this case a grass divot.