Player saved from disqualification by official watching TV

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An observant official, who spotted Gary Player on a TV monitor having problems with a buried ball from a drive into a bunker on the 17th hole, saved the South African from disqualification in the British Seniors Open at Royal Portrush yesterday.

The twice former champion failed to re-cover the ball with sand after locating it and played out into heavy rough. Player took a penalty drop and holed out in a two-over-par seven. He would have signed for a 74 before he was made aware of the obscure rule 12 (1), which cost him a further two penalty shots instead of disqualification.

He said that he and his playing partners, Tommy Horton and John Morgan, had between them been playing for 110 years and none of them knew the rule.

"It is so distressing. I was playing beautifully and that drive was my only bad shot," said Player, whose two-over-par half-way total of 146 effectively ended his title chances.

Player finished nine strokes behind Neil Coles, Brian Barnes and Bob Charles. Coles shot a two-under 70 for a two-round seven-under 137. Barnes shot a seven-under 65 and Charles had a three-under 69 that included a hole in one on the 166-yard 11th. American Tom Wargo shot a two-under 70 to trail the leaders by one stroke at 138.