Sport Golf

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Mickelson quick to defend Harrington

Padraig Harrington shows officials the spot from where he hit his tee-shot at the 13th on Sunday. Photo: Reuters
Padraig Harrington shows officials the spot from where he hit his tee-shot at the 13th on Sunday. Photo: Reuters

Karl MacGinty

Phil Mickelson has leapt to the defence of Padraig Harrington, insisting that the rules dispute which could have led to the Dubliner's disqualification from the Wells Fargo Championship was little more than a storm on a tee box.

Mickelson and Harrington, who played together on Sunday, plus their two caddies, were ferried from the scorer's tent back to the 13th after a marshal reported the Dubliner for teeing-off ahead of the markers.

The incident provided an intensely dramatic postscript to a final-round 68 which placed Harrington in a tie for ninth with Mickelson on 10-under (worth $150,428).

Importantly, Harrington's performance offered encouraging evidence of an upturn in form heading into this week's $9.5m Players Championship at Sawgrass. Mickelson believes the Irishman had no case to answer. "I watched him move the ball back and he checked it, so I'm fine with it," he said.

"Padraig has more integrity than anybody out here ... he's constantly checking to make sure he's playing by all the rules. This is not going to be an issue. I'm pretty comfortable with the fact that his ball was behind the marker."

Given the absence of clear evidence to back up the marshal's assertion and no conclusive TV footage, Tour rules officials Slugger White and Jon Brendle decided no sanction was required. Harrington admitted he had needed to hit his six-iron at the limit to make the green at 13 -- where he shot a par three -- and that the tee markers were "slightly askew". Yet he still believed he'd played from the correct place.

"It really would be a question of me being a martyr if I took a penalty in this instance," Harrington said. "I've done that before but not today ... everything's just too inconclusive."

Had the marshal's assertion been upheld, Harrington would have been disqualified under Rule 11-4b for playing from outside the teeing ground and not going back and playing the hole from the correct position (under a two-stroke penalty) before teeing off at the next.

Irish Independent

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