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Page last updated at 08:00 GMT, Friday, 21 January 2011

Padraig Harrington disqualified for Abu Dhabi error

Padraig Harrington
Harrington cut a dejected figure as he explained his disqualification

Ireland's Padraig Harrington has been disqualified from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after signing for a wrong score in his first-round 65.

Harrington's hand brushed the back of his ball on hole seven as he replaced it in front of his marker.

The ball rocked forward and television slow-motion replays showed that it did not return to its original position.

"I looked down and was pretty sure it had just oscillated and had not moved, so I continued on," said Harrington.

"In slow motion it's pretty clear the ball has moved three dimples forward and it's come back maybe a dimple and a half.

"At the end of the day that's good enough, but I wouldn't have done anything differently - there was nothing I could do about it at that moment in time.


"If I'd called a referee over it would have been pointless because if he'd asked me where my ball was I'd have said it was there. As far as I was concerned it didn't move."

A television viewer phoned in to bring the incident to the attention of the European Tour after the Dubliner had signed his scorecard, resulting in the disqualification.

It is the second time three-time major winner Harrington has suffered the punishment in his career - at the Belfry in 2000 he was leading going into the final round before officials noticed he had not signed his first-day scorecard.

Tour senior referee Andy McFee, who also disqualified Harrington first time around, said: "I got an email from the Tour feedback site just before six o'clock [on Thursday].

"I managed to get a look and knew immediately we had an issue. I got all members of the rules committee to look at the tape.

"Because everything was closing down I decided to sleep on it and speak to Padraig first thing this morning [Friday].

"It's a minute movement, but it's a movement and he never replaced it, so he should have included a two-stroke penalty.

"The fact that he is unaware he moved the ball unfortunately does not help him. Because he signed for a score lower than actually taken the penalty is disqualification."

Defending champion Martin Kaymer, who took charge of the Abu Dhabi Championship with a second-round 65, said he felt the Irishman was unlucky.

"It's a very unfortunate thing, obviously. But that's how it is," he said.

"The way he played I think he would have had a chance to win, so he's a little unlucky there."

The incident comes in the same week that Scotland's Elliot Saltman was banned for three months after being accused of marking his ball incorrectly during the first round of the Russian Challenge Cup in September.

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see also
Kaymer storms ahead in Abu Dhabi
21 Jan 11 |  Golf
Saltman banned for three months
19 Jan 11 |  Golf
Westwood starts 2011 in Abu Dhabi
19 Jan 11 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf

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