Padraig Harrington disqualified from Abu Dhabi event

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The Independent Online

Padraig Harrington, one stroke off the lead overnight, was disqualified from his first event of the year without hitting another shot today.

Harrington became the latest victim of trial by television in the sport for an incident during his opening 65 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.



It was spotted by an eagle-eyed viewer that his ball moved a fraction of an inch as he replaced it in front of his marker on the seventh green.



And because he had signed his scorecard before adding a two-stroke penalty the punishment was disqualification.



The Dubliner said: "I was aware I hit the ball (with the back of a finger) picking up my coin.



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



"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 yesterday.



"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."



It is the second time in his career Harrington has been disqualified from a tournament he had a good chance of winning.



In 2000 he was five ahead with a round to go in the Benson and Hedges International at the Belfry, but it was then discovered he had not signed his first day scorecard.



Tour senior referee Andy McFee, who also disqualified the three-time major winner then, stated: "I got an email from the Tour feedback site just before six o'clock last night.



"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.



"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."



It is only two months ago that Ian Poulter lost a play-off for the Dubai World Championship after he dropped his ball on his marker and it flipped over.



And Colombian Camilo Villegas was disqualified from the opening event of the PGA Tour season earlier this month because of a television viewer's vigilance.



Meanwhile, defending champion Martin Kaymer took over at the top from South African Charl Schwartzel with five birdies in the first seven holes of his second round to sit 10 under.



Chasing his second successive victory, Schwartzel had earlier added only a 71 to his initial 64.



Northern Ireland's US Open champion Graeme McDowell (70) stood eight under with Swede Alex Noren, while Rory McIlroy shot 67 for six under and last year's Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie, in a sudden return to form, returned a 69 for five under.



World number one Lee Westwood had improved to four under after seven holes, but Masters champion Phil Mickelson bogeyed the last and with a 70 slipped to three under.



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