Sunday 18 February 2018

Padraig survives DQ scare

Padraig Harrington hits his tee-shot on the fifth hole during the final round at Quail Hollow last night. Photo: Reuters
Padraig Harrington hits his tee-shot on the fifth hole during the final round at Quail Hollow last night. Photo: Reuters

William S Callaghan

Padraig Harrington found himself at the centre of another hot rules controversy at Quail Hollow yesterday after it was alleged he'd teed-off from in front of the markers at the par-three 13th during the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship.

Harrington shot a final-round 68, which earned him a joint ninth finish on 10-under, but he and playing partner Phil Mickelson were driven by rules official Slugger White back to the 13th in an effort to establish where the Irishman had teed-up his ball.

Evidence was inconclusive at the site. After further review of television footage, it was determined Harrington would receive no penalty. "It looks close on TV, there's no doubt about it," Harrington said in an interview with CBS television after the round and subsequent review. "For once, I'm not going to be a martyr and take (the penalty)."

Under Rule 11-4B of the Rules of Golf, a player who plays outside of the teeing ground at the start of a hole is assessed a two-stroke penalty and then must replay the hole by starting inside the teeing ground.

If a player completes the hole and hits a tee shot at the next hole before realising his mistake, returning to the prior hole's teeing ground and playing out that hole properly, then they are automatically disqualified.

Harrington had already signed for a four-under round of 68 at Quail Hollow. Under the Rules of Golf, Harrington would not be disqualified for signing for an incorrect score.

Earlier this year, Harrington was disqualified in Abu Dhabi on the European Tour when a fan called in to report the Irishman had slightly nudged his golf ball on the green and not replaced it before stroking a putt. He was disqualified for not assessing a one-stroke penalty for the violation.

Since that disqualification, the governing bodies of the game have instituted an exemption for such DQs that result from an unreported rules violation that could not have been observed by the player without video evidence.

Members of the gallery reported the incident and officials were eyeing a divot that had been made in front of the marker, but both Mickelson and Harrington didn't think it was the Irishman's. It rounded off a frustrating day for Harrington who fell short in an all-out bid to secure a top-five finish.

Yet he still delivered an encouraging overall performance in Charlotte, where a final round of four-under-par 68 left him tied on 10-under with Mickelson and Vijay Singh to finish joint ninth in a tournament that was eventually won by Lucas Glover who saw off Jonathan Byrd in a play-off.

Harrington played sparkling golf yesterday, racking up six birdies in the first 14 holes. Yet he'd pay a heavy price for his aggression on The Green Mile, Quail Hollow's treacherous finishing stretch.

After three-putting for bogey from 67 feet at the 205-yard 17th, Harrington made bogey five from deep rough to the left of the green at 18 after going all-out for the pin.

A second-round 72 on Friday hurt Harrington's hopes of a victory at Quail Hollow, but he rallied well at the weekend, shooting 69 on Saturday before outscoring Mickelson by one yesterday.

It augurs well for his prospects at this week's PGA Tour showpiece, the $9.5m Players Championship in Sawgrass. Sadly, Rory McIlroy, the defending champion at Quail Hollow, missed the cut last Friday.

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