Padraig Harrington was disqualified from the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship yesterday after he failed to replace a ball that had moved a fraction of an inch when he picked up his marker during the opening round.
The three-time major winner was called in before the second round to review video replays and accepted his disqualification after acknowledging his ball moved ever so slightly on the seventh green.
“It looks like it moved,’’ Harrington said. “So I think it’s fair enough that the penalty is there on the face of it.’’
Harrington was in second place after shooting a 65 Thursday. A television viewer e-mailed European Tour officials to report an infraction.
Under European Tour rules, the ball must be replaced if the coin causes it to move. A failure to do so results in a two-stroke penalty, and Harrington was disqualified for signing the wrong score after putting down a 3.
“You know what, a lot worse things could happen. You could be five ahead going into the last round,’’ Harrington joked. “Yeah, it’s disappointing. It’s an awkward situation.’’
Germany’s Martin Kaymer leads by three strokes after two rounds and is bidding to win this tournament a third time. On a wet, gloomy day, Kaymer shot a 7-under-par 65 that put him at 12-under 132.
He is followed by South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel, who had a 71. US Open champion Graeme McDowell is a shot behind Schwartzel.
European Tour referee Andy McFee said he was confident Harrington didn’t deliberately cheat, but “the fact that Padraig was totally unaware that this ball has moved doesn’t unfortunately help him.’’
It is the second time that Harrington has been disqualified from a tournament. In May 2000 at the Benson and Hedges International at the Belfry, England, Harrington led by five shots after three rounds but had failed to sign his first-round card and was disqualified on Sunday morning.
PGA — Gary Woodland shot an 8-under 64 to join Jhonattan Vegas in the lead after three rounds at the Bob Hope Classic in La Quinta, Calif.
Vegas maintained his steady play in his fifth PGA Tour event with a 67 at the Silver Rock course. The Venezuelan rookie has a share of the lead for the second straight day in the 90-hole, four-course tournament.
Greg Chalmers (65) was a stroke back at 17-under 199, and Martin Laird was 16 under after a bogey-free 64.
Champions — Russ Cochran had two eagles and six birdies in a career-best 10-under 62 to take the first-round lead in the season-opening
The 52-year-old lefthander, a two-time winner last season, was near-perfect in his bogey-free round on a defenseless day at Hualalai. He had a two-stroke lead over Tom Watson and Ben Crenshaw. Bernhard Langer opened with a 65 to match Jeff Sluman and Mark McNulty.