Damien McGrane accepted full blame after being disqualified under bizarre circumstances from the French Open in Versailles yesterday.
It's the first time in his career McGrane has been disqualified from any event, amateur or professional, and he was among four players shown the red card in the €3m event being played on the 2018 Ryder Cup host course.
England's James Ruebotham, South African Jaco Van Zyl and Sweden's Rikard Karlberg were the other offenders.
The foursome were found guilty of breaching Rule 26-1 for taking an incorrect penalty drop at the par four, 18th after finding water guarding the green -- despite notices pinned all about the clubhouse and locker room.
McGrane drove into the light rough. He then hit a six-iron to the left, but his ball clattered off the woodwork supporting the island-like green and disappeared into the depths of the hazard.
Then, instead of taking point of entry relief, McGrane took a drop in the 'drop zone' some 15 yards to the right en route to a double bogey and a one-over-par 72.
But it was not until 90 minutes after handing in his scorecard that McGrane was advised of his error -- and only because his long-time caddie, John Hort had heard other caddies talking about the issue.
McGrane had been led off after his round to provide a urine sample under French anti-doping rules, but then he had to drink two litres of water before any sample could be handed over.
The Meath golfer had just finished his lunch when Hort handed him the bad news.
McGrane located Tournament Director David Probyn, who escorted him back to the 18th fairway where McGrane's offence was confirmed.
"It stated up on the noticeboard that there was something to do with a green stake, but my caddie John read it and tried to make the best out of it," said McGrane.
"I went back down there to the 18th and the green stake is right beside the yellow stake and you almost wouldn't notice the difference in the two. But what I did was wrong and I've broken the rules, so I've no case.
"So, whether it's unfair or not, the notice was up on the board. I could have challenged the notice before I played or I could have teased it with the referee.
"But I didn't and I accept the ruling, as disappointing as it is."
It's the largest number of players to be disqualified from a European Tour event since six players were disqualified for incorrectly moving white stakes during the first round of the 1990 AGF Open at La Grand Motte at Montpellier in France.
The disqualification of four players took much of the shine off the efforts by Australia's Richard Green and England's Graeme Storm who head the event with six-under-par 65s.
Newly-married Gareth Maybin heads the now six-man Irish contingent after signing for a one-under-par 70.
Paul McGinley is at level par, Michael Hoey signed for a 72, Peter Lawrie a 73 and Darren Clarke, with his fiancée looking on, a 75. Former Irish Open winner Shane Lowry continues to disappoint -- dropping five shots over his closing eight holes in a 78.
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