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It's time to change video evidence procedures

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Iain Carter | 13:20 UK time, Friday, 21 January 2011

Padraig Harrington's disqualification before his second round at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is the latest in a string of rules controversies to hit the game and begs the question of whether the way rules are administered needs to be changed.

The Irishman, who ended the first round just a shot off the lead after apparently firing a brilliant 65, should in fact have signed for a 67 to include a two-stroke penalty.

Harrington was liable for the punishment after inadvertently moving his ball as he replaced it in front of his marker on the seventh green.

It was only when officials consulted the feedback section of the European Tour's website that the offence came to light. The three-time major winner knew he had touched the ball at the time but thought it had merely oscillated rather than moved position.

A television viewer had spotted that the rules may have been breached, prompting referee Andy McFee to view footage after play for the day had been completed. Harrington had long since recorded his 65 and so was liable for disqualification for signing for a lower score than he should have done.

It is a wholly unsatisfactory scenario and similar to the one that led to Camilo
Villegas being thrown out
of the PGA Tour's season opener in Hawaii earlier this month.

That incident prompted calls for a rules official to be permanently stationed in front of live television coverage with the brief of highlighting potential problems before a player signs his card.

Harrington's disqualification adds more weight to that argument because it was merely the timing of the discovery of the offence rather than the breach of the rules itself that led to him suffering the ultimate penalty.

If a rules official had been watching at the time and felt further examination of the footage were required it could have taken place before Harrington signed his card. The same applies to the incident involving Villegas.

Had the watching expert rules official not seen anything untoward then there should not have been a case to answer regardless of what television viewers at home might think. After all, we often know that a ref has erred in other sports but we can do nothing about it - that's just the rub of the green.

Using the observations of television viewers sitting at home does not seem the right way to proceed in a professional sport.

On his final hole in the first round at Abu Dhabi, Graeme McDowell also endured a trial by video to see whether he had moved his ball as he addressed his third shot. The examination took place before he signed his card.

It showed that no offence had been committed and so there wasn't a penalty. But what if he had moved the ball? He would have been penalised and his score would have been altered accordingly, but he would have still been allowed to continue in the tournament.

It hardly seems fair that Harrington wasn't afforded the same opportunity merely because of the timing of the discovery of his offence.

The use of video in judging potential breaches of the rules does leave the game riddled with inconsistency. What if Harrington replacing his ball hadn't been shown on television?

He would still be in the tournament because his playing partner marking his card saw nothing untoward. Ninety per cent of the action in a tournament such as this continues away from the gaze of the cameras.

How many other players touched the sand with their club, in breach of the local rule that classified sandy wastes as official bunker hazards, during last year's PGA Championship?

We will never know, but of course we do know that Dustin Johnson did do exactly that on the 72nd hole and the subsequent penalty cost him a place in the play-off ultimately won by Martin Kaymer.

On balance, despite this inconsistency, I do think it is correct to refer to video when it might reveal a breach of the rules, but the scrutiny should be contemporaneous.

Now the authorities in the professional game should take action that makes it much more difficult for incidents like the one we have just witnessed in Abu Dhabi happening again. They should employ extra referees to monitor live video feeds.

Golf's rules are complex. They have to be so to ensure fair play and a level playing field for all competitors. But they subject the game to ridicule when punishments that barely fit a crime have to be handed out and Harrington's disqualification perfectly highlights this unnecessary malaise.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Just reiterate my own comment from your previous blog entry, as it is more relevant here:

    "in Harrington's case, he *believed* that the ball oscillated and technology proved him wrong. He had satisfied himself that he came close to transgressing but didn't. I don't know the man personally but he seems the sort that would have immediately contacted his playing partners or the referee to explain the situation - far better a 2 stroke penalty than a DQ.

    The rules should be amended to account for this type of case, where the discerning, rule-abiding, playing genuinely believes that he (or she) has correctly applied the rules of the game."

    I don't believe that stationing an official or two in front of (potentially hundreds of) replays will be the way forward but the penalty should change. Just retroactively apply the 2 stroke penalty in a similar way that slow play could be penalised. Amend, in this case, Harrington's score to 67 and off we go tomorrow.

    DQ in this case is not the bast way forward.

  • Comment number 2.

    Second time for Padraig. In my very early golf days I was not aware that if the wind moved my ball after I had taken the address position but before I made the stroke then I was adjudged to have "moved" the ball. Am I being too harsh on the lad when I say that these days I always ask my playing partners if they think the ball oscillated or if it moved. I like the lad but he should have learned; don't assume, check it. Hopefully this will be the last time he fails to do that. I agree the rule needs to change; he should have been docked 2 shots retrospectively and allowed to continue.
    Can't understand why the Scots lad got a three month ban; what's that about?

  • Comment number 3.

    Let's face it - the rules of golf verge on the ridiculous at the best of times. I'm sure a list would appear pretty quickly of dumb rules if people submitted their own daft experiences.

    One that springs to mind - a European tour golfer was DQ'd for "building a stance" when he played a shot from his knees (due to his ball being under a bush) and, because the ground was muddy, he knelt on a towel. The Man with some badge spotted it and became Hitler for the day.....

    Hence those who enjoy competition play tend to be complete geeks !

  • Comment number 4.

    Couldn't agree more with Titanicus (though how could you ever disagree with anyone with that intriguing name). Surely a retrospective application of the penalty (especially when it is such an inadvertant mistake - as opposed to the other story this week) and get on with it - similar to when the wrong score has been recorded on more than one hole which means the actual total is correct but there is a discrepancy on two of the holes - but no advantage gained).

    I would add that any opportunity to penalise is lost as soon as the player tees off for the next round so there is a definitive period during which the mistake needs to be identified and the penalty imposed (or if it is the final round, this could be until the declaration of the final result/prize giving).

  • Comment number 5.

    Todays ridiculous disqualification of Padraig Harrington hightlights the conflicting levels of policing of the rules at both professional and amateur level. Even more ironic is that it was inflicted on one of the games greatest abassadors of fair play. Surely real fairness dictates that in the event of particularly pernickity percieved rule 'infringements' the referee should be asked to consider whether it could be interpreted that an advantage could have been acheived, and in this case it's an emphatic no. The recent incidents involving Ian Poulter, Villegas and possibly even the McIlroy incident in the Masters fit in a similar category and the 'bizarre' rulings achieve the opposite of protecting the repute of the game. Extension of this would obviously need to include the amateur (R&A) and would greatly relax the impression that he game is frought with technical rules putting many off golf and many golfers of competition as it is.

  • Comment number 6.

    DQ. End of.A retrospective 2 shot penalty encourages cheating.

  • Comment number 7.

    This whole incident is ridiculous. If a tree falls in a forest and no-one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Yes, and if there is someone around is the sound any louder? No, of course it isn't.

    Padraig has been the victim of his own popularity. If a nobody qualifier at the same event had done exactly the same thing it is likely that no-one would've been sitting watching on the tele because the camera's would've been nowhere near him. As far as I am concerned if this incident isn't spotted by the rules officials or the playing partners at the time then the fact that the TV showed the incident should have no bearing on the outcome. It is the responsibility of the tour official and playing partner to monitor these transgressions - no-one else.

    The rules shouldn't change from how they are for a club player just because everyone in the world can see what he's doing.

  • Comment number 8.


    Your quote on the "building a stance" applied to Craig Stadtler as well (although possibly this is the case you are referring to). The rules in these instances are to prevent players from extricating themselves from an otherwise penalisable position. In effect, his ball was as close to unplayable as could be but he chose to try anyway. IMO, he should have swallowed his pride and taken penalty relief within the rules. His DQ came from failing to penalise himself 2 shots for building a stance and hence signed for the wrong score. It may be considered pedantic by some.

    As a regular player, I would argue that the rules aren't actually as dumb as can be made out and often follow common sense. Very often the "dumb" aspect comes from the *decisions* on the rules, which is a tome nearly 10 times thicker than the rule book itself!

    In fact, to quote (or, more probably, paraphrase) the rule book:

    "Play the ball as it lies. If you can't do that, you must do what is right and fair and do do this, you must know the Rules of Golf".

    Mildly off topic, I often think that Pro players bring a lot of trouble onto themselves by constantly searching for ways to improve their lot (or, sometimes, lie). An example being their incessant (and occasionally unnecessary) cleaning of the ball when on the green. Just adding to the chance that something could go wrong.

    If one were particularly critical of Harrington, you could say it was a fault of his to touch the ball in the first place. I don't actually agree with that entirely but it could be argued.

  • Comment number 9.

    I think I sit somewhere in the middle on this one.

    Retrospective application of penalties could lead to the situation where a player knowingly, and probably unintentionally, makes an infringement but will not call himself on it in the hope it doesn't get picked up. Safe in the knowledge that the worst case scenario they can merely add 2 shots to their score and still play the next day.

    I do not, however, agree with John Huggan of the Scotland on Sunday's recent view that cheating is rife at the top level of golf and, although frowned upon, allowed to continue for the sake of preserving the game's image and sponsorship revenues.

    Its worth a quick read although for what its worth I view that piece as cowardly and sensationalist journalism. It is clear who the players being referred to are as the incidents are pretty much out there in the public domain, he just won't name them for whatever reason. I refuse to believe that with the money golfers play for these days they would be happy to compete against other players who are known to openly cheat.

  • Comment number 10.

    @Titanicus -

    "It may be considered pedantic by some."
    Pedantic ??? He was trying to keep his trousers clean, man !

  • Comment number 11.

    The greatest thing about the rules of golf is that they are black and white. Creating grey areas just leads to players cheating in the hope they'll get away with it.

  • Comment number 12.

    You cannot critisce Harrington the ball barley went forward it wasnt as if he gained like 2 or 3 metres. Harrington is one of Golfs most honest men and is a great champion and has contributed to two ryder cup victories. The only reason he was disqualified, fair enough it is agaisnt the rules if you don't mark it down however no one picked it up until some saddo sitting at home watching the golf saw it and thought, I must email the PGA tour referee. GET A LIFE.

  • Comment number 13.

    This is not the first time that due to someone watching on TV a player has been penalised or disqualified, I cant remember which event but believe towards the back end of last year a player was penalised after a tv viewer contacted the tour to point out a rules breach. Two things spring to mind one how come no commentators players or anyone at the course at the time saw anything wrong. Secondly if it was not for someone with nothing better to do than be a jobsworth and report it no one would have been any the wiser. As someone else pointed out if Padraig was not being televised the whole incident would have gone unnoticed and he would have carried on in round 2 none the wiser.
    Surely the rules should be the same for everyone so in effect everyone should be scrutinised by tv for every stroke. Seems ridiculous i understand the rules are the rules but in other sports a result stands you cant change it because someone watching tv spots something.
    The penalty strokes should have been added to his card and he be allowed to continue in the tournament.

  • Comment number 14.

    It really is about time they did away with players having and signing cards in the top level of professional golf tournaments. It's ludicrous. Every match has a rules official, is documented by scorers - what's the need for the players to ceremoniously sign a card? It's utterly meaningless. Remember poor old Mark Roe at St Georges? Sure, he's an absolutely terrible presenter, but I can't hold that against him.

    That's what needs to change, as well as the application of whatever rules they decide to implement. If people, for whatever reason, decide that marking and signing cards is still needed and relevant then after the card is signed, the card MUST be agreed by rules officials as well as the player. There can be no retrospective action that expels someone from within the tournament; that's just unfair on the player and completely out of their control. You sign for the score, the officials sign for the score, that's the score you get.

    It's against the spirit of the game to call what he did cheating - he gained no material advantage whatsoever.

    Like you mention in the blog, it's the total lack of consistency that's the problem.

  • Comment number 15.

    So Harrington knew he'd touched the ball with his finger but didn't know, or believe, that it had moved. In this instance what is he supposed to do? Inform his playing partners and ask if they saw it move? Fine but they didn't. Call for a referee and explain? Well how can he help, he wasn't there.

    Now if someone saw it move Harrington could replace it, i.e.roll it back a millimetre and add a one stroke penalty. If he assumed the worse case scenario and moved it back a millimetre and hadn't moved it then he has just created the same problem he was DQd for.

    I guess he could play two balls, one from where it lies and one from a millimetre further away and check in the scorers hut that everything was OK. But then what if it wasn't televised (I assume the players have no idea whether their shot is going out on air). How would anyone make a ruling except by asking Padraig himself whether it moved, to which he would reply "I don't think so" and they would take him at his word.

    Apart from refusing to sign his card until he had watched the TV in case his shot happened to be shown I fail to see how Harrington could have avoided being disqualified. Imagine if every golfer waited in the scorers hut until they'd watched every second of coverage in case they had inadvertently made a mistake - you'd need a blooming big scorers hut!

    In this occasion the rules of golf have been made to look stupid by a technology that wasn't available when they were written. He hadn't deliberately contravened any rules of golf because he didn't believe he had committed one. The nature of the 'offence' was so minor, and his actions so reasonable that, in my opinion, no penalty should have been applied at all.

    But what do I know...

  • Comment number 16.

    Does anyone remember Craig Stadler trying to play a shot from underneath a tree on his knees? He took a towel from his bag to kneel on - the pine straw was jaggy, apparently - and a viewer rang in to protest. Indeed, Stadler was penalised. This was 20 or so years ago and is the earliest instance of video snitching I can recall.

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.


    The Ruling Bodies (R&A and USGA) did change the Rules after the Mark Roe incident (Decision 6-6d/4). They revise the Rules every four years and the Decisions every two years, so as to keep the Rules up to date. Unlike most of the instant comments that followed recent high-profile Rules incidents (e.g. Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter, Camilo Villegas and now Padraig Harrington), the RBs take into account all the possible effects of making new Rules, or revising existing Rules, for golfers of all abilities playing in all climactic and topographical conditions around the world. As someone who spends much of my time writing about the Rules of Golf I can assure you that there are good, common sense reasons behind all the Rules and Decisions. That is not to say that they are perfect and I am sure that we will see several changes when the four-yearly revisions are announced at the end of this year.

    We have already seen one reason why the penalty of two strokes is not appropriate when it is realised that a player has incurred a penalty after they have returned their score card. It means that a player who knowingly, and probably unintentionally, breaches a Rule is less likely to record it on their card as the penalty will still be the same if it is reported by someone else. There are other significant reasons.

    The Rules of Golf are black and white for a reason. Let's keep them that way and maintain the unparalleled integrity of this great game.

    Barry Rhodes

    P.S. Kudos to Padraig Harrington for the exemplary way that he has handled this incident. I hope other sports professionals are taking note.

  • Comment number 19.

    Would the amateur armchair busybody who shopped poor old Padraig please make themselves known so that we might pelt them with our old Penfold Commandos!

    Name another sport that entertains hints and tips over the phone to supplement its jurisdiction...

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm absolutely gutted. Up at 0500 this morning, caught a sneaky glimse of the scores and saw Padraig had been DQ. I can't believed the ball moved 1 1/2 dimples. If he had placed it back, no dramas, crack on, but he thought it had moved back into position.
    You have to hand it to him, the consistent ambassador for sport, 100% on the side of the rule chiefs.

    Lets hope he can deliver next week.

  • Comment number 21.

    Hmm...what would it look like in other sports if this level of self-regulation was required? "Germany disqualified from world cup after video replays showed the ball crossed the line and nobody admitted it", "India disqualified from world cup final after video replays showed fielder's foot touching the rope as he stopped a four but he said he kept it in, even though they ended up winning by 98 runs anyway"..its absurd. Players should have no input at all in deciding or signing off on their final score, that should be the job of match officials like it is in every other professional sport.

  • Comment number 22.

    The rules are the rules however, in this case the punishment is too severe.The player was disqualified for signing for a wrong score on his card. He was not aware of the ball having moved therefore why would he penalise himself. In such an instance following a review surely a two shot penalty would have been sufficient.

  • Comment number 23.

    It remains incomprehensible to me that Harrington, knowing in his own mind he wasn't 100% sure, didn't ask for video replay to be consulted before signing his card.

    In fairness to officialdom, there have been recent instances where penalties/disqualifications have occurred and the applicable rule has been amended as a result (Azinger/Funk, Cink two examples that come to mind). Hopefully there will be some move to address balls being marked/addressed and then blown by the wind (Michael Thompson, Harrington again etc), as it's scarcely the players' fault if conditions are unplayable but deemed OK by the Referee.

    Given the often needless but repeated marking and re-marking of the ball it is a wonder this sort of thing doesn't happen more often.

  • Comment number 24.

    Why do these armchair rules officials get to remain anonymous? if we knew who they were i can gaurantee they would find something else to occupy their obviously inconsequential lives.
    I am not saying that if you get away with it then it's not cheating or a rules violation, but the rules have to be applied evenly so those players not shown on highlights or live feed play under the same set of circumstances as the Padraigs, Poulters etc.

  • Comment number 25.

    I have the profoundest respect for the way golf polices itself, and the way players conduct themselves in this regard. The way Harrington accepted the decision is exemplary.

    But I do worry about the precedent this is going to set. From now on, literally every single occasion a player is concerned he may have accidentally moved his ball, or committed any other minor offence, he's going to stop and get a ruling. He has to, the penalty for not doing so is so severe.

    So I think they are going to need to figure out a way to deal efficiently with these situations when they arise. Players take this stuff so seriously, I have no doubt that they should be able to find a way for them to police this situation themselves and ensure that a really very minor incident, that has no bearing on anything, will not result in a draconian punishment.

  • Comment number 26.

    Harrington should be more aware of the rules. Anyone that has read the rules throughly we see this incident is very clear cut and although harsh the penalty is justified.

    He clearly "touched" the ball (which he knew at the time) which means it could have moved. It would have been senisble (given he knew the rule) to pick up the ball and replace regardless of wehether he thought the ball had moved. He would not be penalised for replacing the ball 2 or 3 dimples in the wrong place, if he believed that was the correct place. OR even easier call a referee at that stage.

    It was proved the ball moved, without question and since he did not touch it again he broke the rule. I agree the penalty is harsh but it is clear.

    Perhaps he should spend some time reading the rules as a good knowledge will save shots. Golf is a game played within the rules and they are black and white any "greying" of the rules will lead to real problems. How many of these other comments have been written by people who do not have a copy of the rules of golf or indeed have read it in the past year?

  • Comment number 27.

    I'm not really a massive golf fan but heard this on the news today and was absolutely disgusted and have registered here just to comment, not of course that it will be seen by those in charge. People more knowledgeable and eloquent than I have already commented on how absurd this is. My main point is that in the 21st century it is ridiculous that a player can be disqualified for incorrectly filling out his scorecard. It's a genuine mistake and he in no way benefitted from so doing. Surely it would make more sense for the officials to keep score so the participants can concentrate on participating?

  • Comment number 28.

    This rule by tv is getting silly. it is time to stop slow-mo video evidence of such minute infringements, i have listened and watched the incident and it is quite unfair that a TV viewer should be able to damage a golfer of Harringtons reputation by email. I bet he put a wager on Harrington getting DQd at exceptional odds and then sent the email. How much has he been paid ??Captain1983

  • Comment number 29.

    Have just watched an interview with Padraig and as ever he comes across very well considering the circumstances off his disqualification. Had the pleasure of meeting him at a pro am just before his major success and he could not have been more polite or obliging.He has just taken up a role with the R&A and in light of his reaction you can see why they have got his involvement. Well done padraig for accepting your punishment with dignity.
    On a foot note would he really of gained a great advantage on a 20 foot putt had the ball moved even 2 inchs let alone the minute 2 dimples think not ?

  • Comment number 30.

    The game is great because of the Rules. The players police themselves and keep the game great. Those who don't have severe penalties inflicted upon them. Please compare to football and the joke it has become because of the cheating, player/manager power, lack of authority etc etc.

    I think Mr Harrington himself sums this up:

    "I would argue, though, in general, it does serve the game well that we have the best rules of any sport. They are applied across the board all the time. It's the one thing all golfers love about their sport is the fact that we can stand up and say, we have the best rules, we are the fairest, we call them on ourselves.

    “I think in this situation and other situations like that, with the new technology, maybe going forward, that the penalties can be changed. But the actual rulings have to stay where they are. You know, as I said, 1 1/2 dimples becomes, as I said, half an inch becomes an inch; where do you stop?

    “The rules are good, we abide very well, the players love the fact that we apply them and everybody who plays the game. You know, if there's somebody in your golf club that doesn't apply the rules, you know, everybody knows about it, and everybody ostracizes them. We love the standard that we play by. We have to stick to that, that's the best thing about our game.”

    Remember, this is a man who has just been kicked out of a tournament for a 'minor' infringement. NOT cheating, just breaking a rule and finding out after the scorecard has been signed. Seems harsh, but if he was 'let off' it would undermine the rules and the rot would set in...

    However, those who take a simple swipe at the rules being fixed and old-fashioned are not doing their research. As Barry Rhodes points out, the rules are reviewed at regular intervals and changed where necessary. I know Barry has an absolute passion for the rules, and I am a qualified rules official, but I would never say they are perfect, and I'm sure Barry would agree. However, by being so precise holds the game at the very highest level of sportsmanship and fair play, and the players reap the rewards, so it's refreshing to see Harrington taking it on the chin like a man, rather than a couple of rather silly Twitter feeds I've seen this afternoon from people who've made an awful lot of money from the same game.

    My problem is with the trial by armchair. We are going to have to get to a point where we say 'enough, the card's returned so that's it' except for a breach where the player was aware there was an infringement (as already catered for in the rules). If a query has not been raised by the time the card is returned then there's no comeback. THAT'S the root cause of the problem here, not the rules themselves...

  • Comment number 31.

    There is a critical part of crime and punishment that is missing totally here - proportionality! How does this punishment fit the crime???

  • Comment number 32.

    I am a keen, albeit awful, golfer and I understand most of the rules both in their application, and the logic behind most. It does, however, seem strange that a spectator can spot and 'shop' a player, whilst at the same time could, if attending an event, kick, push or re-bound a wayward ball toward a green, with no penalty to the player. At the risk of inflaming the anti-golf contributors by agreeing with them, I do think a bit of practical common-sense could be applied in certain circumstances.

  • Comment number 33.

    It's ridiculous... why not give the man a two stroke penalty, and let him play the rest of the tournament? He had no intention to do anything wrong, and even by watching very carefully in slow motion, you barely notice any significant move...

    I love golf, i really do, but some rules are just... as you wrote, Iain, 90% of the shots are not seen on TV, so if Padraig was an obscure player currently at +2 or +5, nobody would have noticed... it's unfair, and it gives golf a very bad image...

  • Comment number 34.

    1. Harrington has been unfortunate. This really is a case of the law being an ass.

    2.What happens if a player, on entering a bunker, stumbles and his club hits the sand as a result? If he is supposed to be penalised for that, this also would be asinine.

  • Comment number 35.

    By the way - I believe PH said that he asked his playing partner who saw nothing untoward. Neither did the official with them - though he wasn't asked at the time. That being the case PH is not to blame, but rather the daft 'trial by TV'.

  • Comment number 36.

    I would be of the mind that if an official doesn't spot any error then there should be no punishment. I can only imagine how proud of themself the fan who phoned in (probably in a whiny adenoidal voice) must have been when the news came through of Harrington's disqualification. If this were any other sport, we'd have been told that the decision of the officials at the venue is final. Otherwise we'd have the FA/ECB/RFU changing results off the back of every phone call.

    I would suggest that this punishment is an over-reaction to a situation where a ball would have moved no more than a couple of millimetres, if that.

    Given that the officials here checked TV footage after the card had been signed with no objections from anyone (players or officials), can we expect them to now go over every single second of every TV feed whether it be live or otherwise, to ensure a fair monitoring of the game for all? This is why the ruling is false and Harrington should appeal, there is absolutely no chance of equal monitoring of all players on a course through the use of TV feeds. Let's leave the rule monitoring to the on-course officials and stop armchair referees from having any say in things like this.

  • Comment number 37.

    How the issue was raised and his status in the game is completely irrelevant. He has broken the rules and was disqualified accordingly. End of.

  • Comment number 38.

    Harrington knew exactly what had happened at the time (he said so himself), which must have put the slightest seed of doubt in his mind. On that basis why did he not declare this at the time or at the end of the round? I think we all know, poor form etc.

    Absolute disgrace!

  • Comment number 39.


    The player said he didn't think the ball had moved, and therefore didn't think it needed any further action. Nobody on-course spotted it, not even his caddy, or his playing partner, or their caddy. It did nothing to change the outcome of the hole, and would have had no bearing on the game as a whole. Yes, he should have notified a course official, he acknowledges that, but it's hardly as if he's done something that would give him a blatant advantage, is it?

    It's a mistake, it should have been recognised as such, and the penalty applied retrospectively. Again, it leads us to a situation whereby armchair referees are going to be watching and picking up the phone and whinging to golf officials whilst sweating feverishly.

    Leave the officiating to the on-course officials, and amend the rules in a way that clarifies when TV judging can be used (by officials, not amateur fans at home).

    Personally I think your own stance is an absolute disgrace.

  • Comment number 40.

    I organise many tournaments and have a simple rule. Once all the cards have been checked, ordered and published it's too late to make a protest.

    In professional golf once the day's play has finished and the last card has been signed, it should be declared finished and any subsequent protests denied.

    Good point and a good idea about the rules officials monitoring live footage.

  • Comment number 41.

    This seems to be one of those cases where changing the rules to suit this particular unfortunate incident will cause more problems than it solves.

    It is one of those regrettable disqualifications, but rushing to change the rules is rarely the solution.

  • Comment number 42.

    Chizzle - with you on this one. If we start with 'trial by audience', where does it end? If we can't apply the same level of TV micro-exposure to every golfer in the event, then it can't possibly be considered 'fair' which is what golf is all about.

    As usual, there are plenty who love 'the rules' more than the game it seems to me - sad!

    I would be interested to hear what the reaction from the field has been to this incident - Iain - any insight?

  • Comment number 43.

    sowhatdoiknowanyway has hit the nail on the head, tv/technology has gone too far in this instance. Did Old Tom Morris have the same issues as Padraig has had to contend with? No, because the game was played to the rules without the need for tv replays etc, the officials should keep this in mind at all times. Some saddo with nothing better to do with his time has tainted the tournament. Padraig did not cheat or attempt to cheat, he thought the ball had not moved from its spot and therfore played on without the need to speak to his fellow partners. Fair play for Padraig to accept the consequences within the true spirit of the game, thus ensuring the integrity of golf remains and its rules remain sacrosanct.

  • Comment number 44.

    I really don't know why this is a debate. Hundreds of golfers all over the country correctly sign and mark cards every Saturday. Recording score is part of game at all levels and it should remain so. Just because one or two individuals can't mark their cards properly or acknowledge a penalty shouldn't result in a change in the system. This is not the first time Harrington has made this type of mistake. Therefore it's a result of his own carelessness rather than a problem in the system. These guys are getting paid enough as it is so why should we take away simple responsibilities from them. Professional golfers have a far easier life anyway with caddies, marshals who can find there ball in knee high rough etc. Surely it isn't too difficult to mark a card correctly or own up to a penalty!!

  • Comment number 45.

    I called in! I noticed it!


    I'm famous!!!

  • Comment number 46.

    This goes back to the reason why Sepp Blatter is against using goal line technology and video evidence. Because if they can't have it on Hackney Marshes on a Sunday they shouldn't have it at the top level. everyone should be playing the game to the same rules with the same level of scrutiny. If tomorrow morning I cant decide if my ball has moved and my playing partners say they don't think it has no one is going to produce video evidence 5 hours later to disprove what we are saying. Harrington is playing to the same rules we are its just that he as one of the worlds top golfers has his every shot and move televised. As for the Craig Stadler incident of 'building a stance' the ridiculous thing about that was had he chosen to put waterproof trousers on or indeed taken his trousers off there would have been no issue

  • Comment number 47.

    Tough on Pod but all part of golf's unique charm. No change required.

  • Comment number 48.

    I can't think of any other sport where a television viewer can ring in and get a player penalised and/or disqualified. A player is having his scorecard marked by another competitor who is effectively acting as a referee on behalf of the rest of the players. In professional events there is also a team of rules officials. If they don't spot a rules infringement, and the player doesn't realise that he has infringed the rules, then that should be that.

  • Comment number 49.

    Unbelievably harsh. Harrington was so unlucky. Surely a shot-penalty would suffice?

  • Comment number 50.

    I do feel sympathy for Padraig but unfortunately even he acknowledged that his ball had moved out of position albeit with the aid of technology. The problem would not have arisen if he had asked his playing partners or a referee for their opinion on his actions while marking the ball. If they had then all agreed that the position was as near as possible to his marked position then there would have be no penalty and no disqualification.

    As with all queries on the rules, Stop, Think, are you sure? If not ask and get confirmation. A hard lesson learned and I think the press need to realise that these are the rules. If after a decision is made that is controversial it would be discussed at the R&A then changed if required. I believe that the rule is correct a ball moved in the process of marking can be replaced. It couldn't be clearer.

  • Comment number 51.

    It's at times like this were Golf pretty much embarrasses itself to be honest,Golf is a fantastic sport which is played by brilliant and honest professionals and at times is a joy to watch,also 99% of the rules are fantastic and keep the sport the fairest in the world,but in situations like this I can't see how the ball moving forward 1 and 1/2 dimples should result in a disqualification,it was an honest and genuine mistake and one his gained no real benefit.

    If I was comparing it to another sport such as football then it'd be like saying a corner was taken but the referee ordered a retake due to pushing in the box,then the player thinking he put it back in the original quadrant turned out to be an inch and half outside and therefore the player is sent off as a result,now that's be an extremely unfair punishment as is Harrington's.

  • Comment number 52.

    I am one of Harrington's biggest fans and it probably wasn't fair but I have to say Rules is Rules!

  • Comment number 53.

    "Using the observations of television viewers sitting at home does not seem the right way to proceed in a professional sport."

    Tell that to Frank Lampard at last year's football World Cup, or the German goalkeeper in 1966. At least professional golf appears to be throwing-a-bone to the people whose opinion is ultimately responsible for it's continuation.

  • Comment number 54.

    I've seen plenty of professional snooker players 'fess-up when they have touched the cue-ball with their cue prior to playing a shot.

    It's an open admission of a minor transgression of the rules, and few opponents would want to take advantage of it. Whenever I've admitted to the same during a game of pool in a pub, no one has ever enforced a penalty on me.

    Why shouldn't golfers continue holding themselves to the same standard?

  • Comment number 55.

    golfers have been getting away with nudging their balls for years!
    that 1 mm off a 3 metre putt sure makes a difference to a pro golfer, it sure does for me!!! ssshhhhooosh! don't tell anybody i cheat like that, lets keep it our secret!!
    for his heinous crime now exposed to the world poor Padraig will be forever tainted. ?will he even be allowed back in the USA after commiting the crime of the century!!! gosh he will only be able to go out after dark to try and save face, "the irish tiger"!!!
    here's a thought! maybe the FIFA brains trust will allow viewer phone ins just at the off chance somebody amongst the billion viewers watching the next world cup notices an irregularity with a refs decision in one of the games and after review by "blattercam" adjusts the game result accordingly!! heck it might even stop a skirmish between two countries who had been at truce beforehand, or better stop some impoverished 3rd world spectator from committing suicide because that is all he has in his life after his team loses due to an obvious refs error!!!

  • Comment number 56.

    So how do you contact the rules people anyway?
    It could be one way of stopping the 'home police' if everyone knew their number and every week they got hunderds of calls and couldn't review everything that was said?
    And in reply to 'jedediahleland ' second time for Padriag's comment- the first time was for not signing his own card- there was a mix up with his playing partners card - not for any rules breach.

  • Comment number 57.

    This incident beggars belief. An archaic rule book that on the one hand fails to recognize modern technology itself and yet officials who rely on website feedback. What next, Golf Idol, with the winner decided by couching dwelling no-lifes with nothing better to do?

    Never mind talk of cheating, in sport it is so often the bureaucracy that brings disrepute and ridicule and not the players. Frankly I am at a loss to understand how the officials should feel compelled to act on such information.

    So are we to know the name of the tedious individual who gets their pleasure from being such a miserable petty minded nitpicker?

  • Comment number 58.

    "Hundreds of golfers all over the country correctly sign and mark cards every Saturday"

    How do you know? Do TV cameras follow their every move? How many times might amateur and professional golfers make a similar mistake and it's not picked up on? He, and everyone around him, believed he had marked the card correctly.

    "I've seen plenty of professional snooker players 'fess-up when they have touched the cue-ball with their cue prior to playing a shot.

    So? If Harrington thought he had done something wrong, he would have owned up immediately. This incident is more akin to a snooker player inadvertently brushing a ball with his sleeve, and it not being noticed by the player or the referee.

    Trial by a jobsworth TV audience leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

  • Comment number 59.

    I agree with others that the player should consult fellow players and or officials if there is an element of doubt in there mind on such an occasion !But surely the penalty should fit the crime.To be disqualified from the tournament for inadvertently moving the ball a millimeter is beyond belief !

  • Comment number 60.

    interestingly i remember seeing tiger woods of all people breaking the rules at last years open, he was playing the 17th and had just hit a brilliant shot into the green, as he started walking onward a playing partner or caddy clearly had asked what club he hit and still smirking at the great shot he put 3 fingers up to indicate the club (i know he would not have been penalised but he obviously knows the rule about confering). one of the players he was playing with was justin rose and i think he played next, and should have incurred a 2 shot penalty. i wonder if anyone did complain as millions would have been watching and they decided to overlook it as it was tiger!?

  • Comment number 61.

    I play and love the game but I find the rules are punitive at the best of times. There is no room for the use of common sense in golf as there is in other sports. The incident at The Masters when the wind moved Harringtons ball on the 15th green a couple of years back springs to mind. Everyone watching could see that it was the strong wind that moved his ball and not the fact that he had addressed it! It's time for the 'men-in-blazers' to apply something that the whole world could do with...a good dose of common sense!

  • Comment number 62.

    YAMSER43, Friends is funny! Duh

  • Comment number 63.

    #60 - Decision 8-1/7 no penalty to Rose (as long as it wasn't him who asked before he played his shot, he can't be held responsible for another player asking the question after they have both played)

    #34 - Exception 1 to Rule 13-4, no penalty.

    So let's not try to destroy the rules when we don't know them thoroughly, eh?

  • Comment number 64.

    Just noticed this on the European Tour website - Harrington gives masterclass

    All credit to the man for his attitude.

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    I think the point should be that the rules are always applied the same to every player. So if there is video evidence it has to either be before or after for every player, so that you don't get a situation where one player gets a 2 stroke penalty and the other gets disqualified, for essentially the same mistake.

    If they can't cover every player to the same extent then it should not be admissible as evidence, or it's not fair. The only point of having rules is by having them apply equally to all, so if they can't cover every player then another framework should be implemented.

  • Comment number 67.

    If the player is unsure, it is his duty to apply the worst scenario and penalty. He can consult his playing partners and spectators for guidance and still has the option of asking for a review of video footage at the end of the round. If you are unsure about what happened, to assume the best out come is cheating.

    If you go out in the club medal and encounter such a situation, you have to look through all the mental conundrums that things could have been ok. Taking the penalty ensures your integrity, assuming the best and you will be wrong on occasions. How do you know? well even the slightest doubt answers that!

    Graeme McDowell showed exactly how the situation should be handled. Ready to accept a penalty even though none existed, such that integrity was always at the fore, not his personal interest.

  • Comment number 68.

    I'm just wondering what the role of a competitor's playing partners should be in a situations such as this. On this occasion, there seems to have been no concern raised at the time (in comparison to the Saltman case) and, maybe, this is where the boundaries should lie.

    Over many years, my own playing experience is that, almost without exception, the first person to raise a breach of the rules is the player himself. As far as I can tell, Padraig was unaware of the issue, his playing partner(s) were happy with his score and his card was counter-signed as a correct record.

    Maybe this is where the matter should have ended.

  • Comment number 69.

    #68 Quality name - priceless!

    You make a good point. However, I think as it was shown that the ball clearly HAD moved and come to rest in another place that he should have been subject to penalty, even though it was a very very small distance. Even though he was unaware it DID move. As PH himself said, where does it stop? Where I am really uncomfortable is that when all is done and dusted someone can ring in and query, and if it was before the card was returned it's 2 shots, and if after it's a big fat DQ. I think there has to be a time limit on this. If it's not queried before that card's returned then the job's a good'un!!

  • Comment number 70.

    I don't play golf anymore - it's far too frustrating an activity for an edgy person like me - but disqualifying a player because of a minute infraction of an arcane rule is just another example of taking a perfectly decent sport and ruining it with an overreaching speculation of 'what could have been'.

    No one in their right minds - which excludes most golfers spending much of a perfectly good day working out their angst on an inoffensive little white ball (although better than taking it out on their wives, I suppose) - would consider that a golf ball moving 'one a half dimples' would make the slightest difference in the outcome of this golfers round.

    A sense of reality and proportion seems to be needed here.

  • Comment number 71.

    #70 But that's the whole point and why golfers can hold their heads high. Read Harrington's reaction and see the article on him giving a masterclass to local kids including a session on how to mark the ball on the European Tour's website. Could you see Rooney acting with such class after being sent off???

  • Comment number 72.

    Ashgolf wrote: As PH himself said, where does it stop?


    The question should be, where does it start? And there lies the problem between the attitudes of Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington, one assumes the worst, the other assumes the best. What we can determine from these different attitudes is that Graeme McDowell would never of knowingly taken advantage of a mistake, whereas Padraig can never claim that position. Padraig could easily have asked the rules official with his group and received an answer from the tv coverage before he completed his round.

    These rules are harsh but for a very good reason, integrity is the byword for the sport.

  • Comment number 73.

    The reason the rules of golf are so precise is because it is the player who enforeces them and there can be no room for interpretation. If we start to introduce a "ref" style situation which was never envisaged when the rules were written it takes the integrity of applying the rules out of the game.
    What would have happened if this or a similar issue came to light after a tournament had completed - you cant disqualify someone then.
    There should be no phone in referees - either the tournament reeferee sees something or thats it - its up to the player or his partners to call it and that system has worked well for years so lets leaves it like that?

  • Comment number 74.

  • Comment number 75.

    I find this issue somewhat disturbing. If it's not picked up by the rules official accompanying the group nor by any of the other players then why should the viewing public at home be appointing themselves as unofficial rules enforcers.

    I also see that the "font of all sporting knowledge - NOT", the complete no mark known as the Shango is proving that he/ she knows nothing about golf either. Why can't the BBC ensure this ignoramus can't register to post anything on these blogs? If this contributors comments actually had any merit/ worth/ credance then they wouldn't be continually banned. All this person does is abuse freedom of speech by continually peddling filth.

  • Comment number 76.

    The rule for disqualification should include something about a player gaining a significant advantage through the breach of rules. The ball moving a couple of mm is no great advantage, neither is kneeling on a towel etc...

    If the breach had been spotted after the tournament had finished and just say PH had won would he be forced to return his trophy and checque? Probably, all for the sake of a couple of mm's! Too harsh by far!

  • Comment number 77.

    Quotation from Ians' article.
    "On balance, despite this inconsistency, I do think it is correct to refer to video when it might reveal a breach of the rules, but the scrutiny should be contemporaneous."

    ""CONTEMPORANEOUS"" is this even a word?

  • Comment number 78.

    I could have sworn I saw the ball move slightly on nearly every golf shot today on sky sports. I hope I get a response from the Tour officials before tee off in the morning.

  • Comment number 79.

    I have the greatest respect for Padraig Harrington and would never impugn his honesty. He was the closest one to the ball though and if a TV viewer was able to see a penalty taking place, Harrington surely saw it.

    Perhaps these things do happen more often than known because Padraig simply shrugged it off and continued to play. Is there a "no harm, no foul" culture among pro golfers?

    Please feel free to read my blog at

    Frankie C

  • Comment number 80.

    A simple way out would be to diregard phone ins from people who have nothing better to do than complain. Professional golfers do not knowingly breach the rules.

  • Comment number 81.

    I agree with those who suggest disregarding the opinions of TV viewers. If the referee's at the course missed it then tough. If this happened with football there would be anarchy. Hundreds of thousands of footy fans would be ringing the FA every weekend.

  • Comment number 82.

    #78 Bahdahding - thats it - you have singlehandedly got the answer!
    We should all phone in with different comments every tournament and it wont be long before they ban phone-ins! Ha - such an easy way to fix this nonsense.

  • Comment number 83.

    What if the infringement hadn't been spotted and Harrington's subsequent putt had died into the hole (a la the famous Woods Augusta chip in 2005) - dropped only because of the two dimple movement?

    And then he ends up in a play off with Kaymer, and wins it.

    Following which Kaymer suffers a major lapse in confidence and doesn't win this year, allowing TW to dominate again.

    With its flagship player in bits, the European Tour goes into sharp retreat and we get mullered in the next 4 Ryders.

    Food for thought, isn't it?

  • Comment number 84.

    Right, here we go.

    1. Had PH thought the ball had been moved, and so replaced it in what was thought to be the right spot, and then discovered that it in fact had not moved and so now had been placed fractionally in the (now) wrong spot, he would also have ended up in trouble.

    2. Had PH thought the ball might be out of position he would then have had to speak with an official. The official would not have seen the incident and would have checked with his playing partner, They would have seen nothing (because the 'movement' was so infinitesimal as to be almost non-existent). The time this would all have taken, including looking for, and then at possible TV evidence would have been immense. PH could not take a further shot during this time because when shown that the replaced ball was in the wrong place he would have had to replace it in the 'right' spot. Not only would this have held up play for a long time he would probably have been fined and even expelled for taking too long over the shot.

    In fact, WHATEVER course of action PH had taken would have ended up with him being penalised for the ball being about 1 millimetre away from where it should have been. Insanity, these rules. After all - if I mark my ball and then clean and replace it (as one often has to do with worm casts and the like) what guarantee is there that it is EXACTLY in the same spot, no matter how careful I am. None, because it won't and cannot be in exactly the same spot. Ergo (that means 'therefore') every player should call a two shot penalty on themselves every time they mark and clean their ball.

    And that's a fact.

  • Comment number 85.

    Golf is a difficult enough game to play as it is, without having to contend with a myriad of mind bogglingly pedantic rules & regulations and to have a player disqualifed because a television viewer didn't like what he saw is just plain nonsensical. Something needs to be done, because situations like these, especially, when it's just a minute accident that doesn't give the player any sort of advantage over his opponent, just spoil the game.

  • Comment number 86.

    #84 Here's the point and where PH did wrong:

    Rule 34-2 If a referee has been appointed by the Committee, his decision is final.

    If he had called the ref over they could have discussed it and whatever the ref decided would have been final - no further action.

    Now lies the problem that players will begin to call the referee over all the time to cover themselves in case eagle-eyes is watching them on telly...

  • Comment number 87.

    Any television viewer who telephones, texts, or tweets in to report an alleged infringement of the rules of golf should be told to get a life and not to bother the Tournament Director.

  • Comment number 88.

    ASHGOLF; Your knowledge (and that of Barry Rhodes) is commendable but what about the common sense of the game and the punishment in relation to the misdemeanour? Two points that you have mentioned are relating to integrity and the reaction to the ruling.

    Firstly, where does the moral compass of a sport lie that allows the say of an armchair snitch who tells the powers that be that a ball had moved by one and a bit dimple and not dealt with by a player to affect the outcome of a tournament. I sincerely hope it wasn't you or Barry by the way! With this ruling the powers that be have set a very dangerous precedent for themselves and is a ridiculous way to police a sport. Why don't we just allow Sky and the public to decide the outcome of a tournament.

    Secondly, imagine Rooney having a go at a referee for a particular decision and then receiving a six month ban along with a fine of a month's wages, there would be no players on the pitch. The punishment is simply draconian. There has to be a modicum sense in the process. Yes, black and white does work, but it doesn't mean it is the best way.

    Golf seems to be a marmite sport to most people, they simply love it or hate it, but a ruling such as this is the main reason why people hate the game and see it as old fashioned. I'm all for the correct rules and laws of any game being adhered to, with the full weight of them coming down on anyone who knowingly cheats, but Harrington gained nothing from the movement of the ball and couldn't have known that the ball moved by one and a bit dimple.

    His integrity after the ruling is in stark contrast to the powers that run golf after allowing this to happen. This decision has come at a time when PH is trying to regain his form of a few year's ago and could affect his progress as, with a score of 65, he could have vying for a top spot. I love the game but find incidents such as this quite pathetic.

  • Comment number 89.

    Antismith - Firstly I can assure you that I was nowhere near the phone. I don't know Barry personally, but get his mobile records checked(!). Joking there, just to clarify. On the contrary, if I had been watching and noticed any infringement I would have tried to get a message through to Andy McFee that there was a potential problem BEFORE Harrington had signed his card, thus preventing a DQ penalty.

    So far as Rooney is concerned (picking on him because he really does react in a ridiculous manner towards refs and yes I am a City fan to boot), if the powers that be make a stand and enforce yellow cards followed by red for dissent then the whole thing could be cleared up in no time. However, I sit and watch over-paid players practically running the game and being rewarded for cheating. Sorry, but that's not for me.

    Yes, the Rules of Golf are precise, and at times complex, but that results in the 'clean' game, resulting in high profile sponsors wanting to be involved leading to great rewards for the players. The minute the foundations are undermined (it was only a few millimetres, what's the difference) we are opening the floodgates, as Harrington himself endorsed strongly. At the end of the day, Harrington would have avoided any penalty if he'd called the referee over because once the official made the decision that the ball had moved (replace it without penalty) or didn't (play it as it lies) based on testimony of player, fellow-competitors or spectators, then his decision is final and there would have been no comeback on Harrington acting on the directions of the official. The viewer could have rung in all night, it wouldn't have made any difference.

    But, and please read my post #69, I am truly against this trial by viewer, effectively condemning Harrington to a weekend off because he had recorded his score, rather than a 2 shot penalty if he'd been made aware of it beforehand. That's where the problem lies for me.

    There have been a lot of what if's and it's silly because comments throughout this blog, and by answering a few of them I think I've shown that the rules have most things covered, so they're not as daft as we'd like to think. This, however, is a relatively new happening (in frequency) and I would be surprised if it's not dealt with in some way when the Rules and Decisions are reviewed in the normal way at the end of this year. Watch this space......

  • Comment number 90.

    And by the way, what's the most number of comments on an Iain Carter golf blog?

  • Comment number 91.

    Has any journalist asked Harri why he didn't ask a referee to look at the footage after his round and before he signed his card??

    I am a huge fan of him but there is a question mark against him until he clears this up................

  • Comment number 92.

    ASHGOLF; Yes, I did read your previous post and I know that you are against the 'trial by viewer', as many on here are, I was more trying to emphasize the potential damage to the integrity of the sport as viewed by 'outsiders'. I can just hear the comments of, "what an absolute joke" at my next visit to the pub!

    I don't think anyone on here has a problem with the rules of golf as they are good rules in the main and usually mean that the game and the players police themselves. Also, the groups have their own officials to aid any problem, which is feasible due to the slower nature of the sport in relation to a team sport such as football.

    The problem lies with the punishment to crime ratio, which is totally draconian in most people's minds on here, particularly in this case which involved a miniscule movement of the ball and no gain to the player at all. Intentionally cheating is a different crime altogether. Rooney did recently receive a yellow card for dissent which made sure he didn't do it again!

    I would like to think that a more common sense approach to infringements is taken (as certain tour players have alluded to) by the golf powers but I'm afraid I don't have as much faith in the 'stuffed shirt' brigade as you do.

  • Comment number 93.

    I watched the moving ball incident in slow motion (slowed x 32 times) and zoomed in to 200% an dreplayed this a few times and yes, it defintely moved. Could we not all use this slo-mo/zoom/replay vision to check if we are not sure about something?

  • Comment number 94.

    Given that the rules of golf rely on the honesty of the player, 'armchair judges' are impacting this integral part of the game. Harrington honestly believed he had NOT moved the ball and that should be the end of it. If the referee thought that Harrington was not being truthful then he should be disqualified. However, if, as in this case, it is clear Harrington made a good faith decision, only a 2 shot penalty should have been incurred.

    Two trial by TV incidents in two weeks is concerning. Let the players and referees be the final arbiters and keep everyone else out of it. I am immensely proud of the integrity of the game of golf. We do not need smart Alecs at home getting honest players disqualified.

  • Comment number 95.

    Not sure this ruling helps the image of golf - seems like it could be held up for some serious ridicule.

    Yes, let's keep the integrity and self policing element of golf, but surely the rules need another looking at.

    Did Harrington deliberately try to gain an advantage? This should be up to the referee once he has viewed the TV coverage. A roll forward of 1.5 dimples would suggest that not much advantage was to be gained. Play on.

  • Comment number 96.

    Working in the golf industry, I cannot think of any professioanl that would not call a penalty on themselves if they were aware of a rule infringement. I do not believe under any circumstances that tournament officals should act on calls from the viewing public who think a rule has been broken. If that happened in the Premier League, half the matches played would have their results overturned.

  • Comment number 97.

    It's interesting that no-one is recalling instances where the application of the rules works in the other direction.
    I remember, a few years ago now, Stewart Cink during a play-off essentially building a tee in an area that for all the world looked like a bunker. However, it was designated as something else and as a result he was allowed to move loose impediments - which became all of the sand around his ball! There was an absolute uproar from the half of the betting public who had bet against against him on a certain betting website having thinking they'd seen him fly in to a bunker. The half that didn't were just little more gen'd up on the rules! And that's the point - in golf the rules are the rules, and they can be your own enemy or an extra club in the bag. Padraig made a mistake, but there are plenty of times during his career when he has used the rules to his advantage. You take them as a package or you start afresh. And, of course there is a different level of officiating between the amateur game and the professional. That's exactly the same as any other sport! If there were cameras at every Sunday League football game and referees with microphones there, then at least 100 games a week around the country would be abandoned after 60 minutes with less than 8 players on a side, and when all the bans were in force the sunday league would finish after 3 months!

  • Comment number 98.

    This whole incident is about the expression "who needs common sense when we've got the rules?"

    The rules guys (Judges??) should not be swayed by the letter of the law - this leads to an indication that common sense along with morality is obsolete. Surely it is their responsibility to ensure that fair play and a high standard of integrity are maintained. Before long the rules cheats will be able to get away with murder based on phraseology - totally unsatisfactory in any game.

    The questionable wisdom of this decision is made more so by the highly reputable guy who was penalised.

    With position comes responsibility.

  • Comment number 99.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 100.

    If the rules are changed, then what's the point of the penalty? A player might just choose to wait and see if he gets caught, after all, there would be no incentive to self-report.

    And I remember from the last major that feeds from each hole are possible. Maybe players who care to should pay to have a guy sitting in front of a really good HDTV watching each and every one of the shots. If there is any question, the golfer can watch the shot over and over again before signing his scorecard. Because at the top level, every shot is on camera. Maybe the sponsors will pay for that to lower the risk of DQ. Golfers who are less well paid can share a watcher.


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