Wednesday 21 March 2018

McFee hits out at severity of penalty for innocent error

Karl MacGinty

ANDY McFEE has twice had what he describes as "the horrible task" of telling Padraig Harrington he'd been disqualified ... and they count as two low points in his career as Senior Referee on The European Tour.

Yet on both occasions, at the 2000 Benson and Hedges International at The Belfry and in Abu Dhabi yesterday morning, McFee said the job was made a little easier by Harrington "and the class he showed in handling both situations".

"Frankly, I feel pretty humble sitting alongside people like that," added McFee, who'd been informed on Thursday evening that the Tour had received an email from a viewer, followed by a second, who spied a minor transgression by Harrington on the seventh green.

McFee and his rules staff went to the TV compound and reviewed the incident. He decided not to contact Harrington until the morning, giving an opportunity to discuss the situation overnight with Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady, Chief Referee John Paramor and Grant Moir at the R&A.

"At least Padraig could have a good night's sleep," quipped McFee, who ranks among those pressing hard for a change in the rules to prevent players being disqualified for signing for a wrong score when they had no idea a penalty was due.

"The way I see it, the innocent penalty escalates very quickly from two strokes to disqualification when a player signs his card. I really don't like that," he said.

If Harrington's transgression was clear in close-up, it wasn't visible to the player. "It's just horrible that in these circumstances, I don't think there's anything else Padraig could have done," McFee said. "Technology has done it for us."

Irish Independent

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