Friday, January 21, 2011

'Gotcha' police nab Padraig Harrington

Padraig Harrington said all the right things after he was disqualified from the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship because a television viewer phoned in a rules violation.

He didn't have much of a choice, really. Anyone who watches a European Tour event must be a valued customer. I see these people who call in as wannabe referees playing "gotcha."

This happens a few times a season. Before teeing off for the day, it's announced that a player has been disqualified because of a rules violation during the previous round. Why can't an additional penalty be added while allowing the player to continue? For example, enforce a two-stroke penalty, then add two or three more strokes for missing it when it happened and move on. In Harrington's case, his ball moved a fraction of an inch while he was replacing it on the green. Technically, he was DQ'd for signing an incorrect scorecard because it didn't include the penalty. But does that violation sound like something that should warrant being removed from the tournament?

It wasn't Harrington's first brush with a delayed DQ, and the other is just as frivolous. In 2000, he led a tournament by five strokes after three rounds, but was DQ'd because he failed to sign his scorecard from the first round. How about this: If a player forgets to sign his or her scorecard, call the player back to the trailer and have him or her sign it. Would it really be that bad? On all the big tours, scorers follow each group. The players shouldn't even need to keep their own scores, let alone get DQ'd because they missed a signature during the post-round paper work.

At least Harrington didn't suffer the indignity having a TV viewer call in during the scorecard issue back in 2000. But that's probably only because they don't have TV cameras in the scoring trailer.

- Howard Primer

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