Harrington disqualified in Abu Dhabi

Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington was disqualified

before the second round of the HSBC Championship after the Irishman

was judged to have illegally moved his ball during Thursday’s first


European Tour senior referee Andy McFee said Friday that a

viewer emailed to say Harrington replaced his ball on the green

and, as he took the coin away, his hand moved the ball. Since the

ball was not replaced, Harrington incurred a two stroke penalty not

reflected on his scorecard.

”The problem is that Padraig’s card for the seventh shows a

three, and the fact that Padraig was totally unaware that this ball

has moved doesn’t unfortunately help him,” McFee said. ”The

disqualification is for signing for the wrong score, lower than

actually taken.”

He finished with a 7-under 65 and was one shot behind leader

Charl Schwartzel.

”You know what? A lot worse things could happen. You could be

five ahead going into the last round,” Harrington said jokingly.

”It’s an awkward situation. Every time something like this

happens, you want to try and gain something from it, learn

something from it.”

In May 2000 at the Benson and Hedges International, Harrington

led by five shots after three rounds but had failed to sign his

first-round card and was disqualified on Sunday morning.

Harrington acknowledged that he touched the ball but felt it

hadn’t moved.

”I’m well aware of the ruling on that situation, and it’s

happened many times over the years,” he said. ”You know, I’m

quite comfortable, if you touch a ball and it doesn’t move and you

feel it hasn’t moved, it hasn’t moved, and you don’t need to –

there is no replacing.

”If you called the referee at that moment in time,” he added,

”in all good conscience, I couldn’t have put the ball anywhere

else but where it was.”

Harrington’s disqualification is only the most recent to be

caused by a viewer.

Earlier this month, Camilo Villegas was disqualified for a rules

violation that a television viewer called in after the opening

round of a PGA Tour event in Hawaii.

Villegas was chipping up the slope to the 15th green when the

ball twice rolled back toward him. The second time, Villegas walked

over and casually swatted away some loose pieces of grass in front

of the divot as the ball was still moving down the slope.

That is a violation of Rule 23-1 that says, ”When a ball is in

motion, a loose impediment that might influence the movement of the

ball must not be removed.” The penalty is two shots. Villegas

opened with a 72, and he also was disqualified for signing an

incorrect scorecard.

”The rules are good, we abide very well, the players love the

fact that we apply them,” Harrington said. ”We love the standard

that we play by. When we have to stick to that, that’s the best

thing about our game.”

Harrington did acknowledge that the European Tour might consider

modifying the penalty so a player was not disqualified after he

”has signed his card and something has come forward that the

player could not have been aware about.”

”I’m comfortable with the whole idea that there’s people there

watching, and I believe when I’m on the golf course I’m not going

to do anything untoward,” Harrington said. ”I hope that this many

people watch The European Tour. I hope there’s 100 million people

watching me play and checking me out. It’s good for the game.”