January 22 — Get-a-life TV viewers are making golf a laughing stock, according to U.S. Open champ Graeme McDowell.
McDowell, nine shots back of leader Martin Kaymer after three rounds of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, let it rip after a viewer’s alert to European Tour officials led to Padraig Harrington’s disqualification from the same event. Officials DQed Harrington after he inadvertently moved his ball as he replaced his marker during the first round at Abu Dhabi Country Club. Euro Tour senior referee Andy McFee reviewed videotape of the incident after receiving the remote alert via e-mail and then banished McDowell for signing an incorrect scorecard.
Anoraks! McDowell was one unhappy golfer. “Anoraks! Too much time on their hands. It makes a mockery of the game when we are penalizing players for something as crazy as that,” the 31-year-old from Northern Ireland told the U.K’s Daily Record. “TV viewers are important to us. High-definition, 3D, and slow-mo add to the experience of watching golf on TV. But some of the fiddly, pernickety, stupid little rules need to be looked at.”
McDowell faced a similar situation after a TV watcher charged him with moving his ball as he set up to hit a shot to the 18th green during the first round. Officials ruled he did not commit a foul.
An “anorak,” by the way, appeared to be British slang for a geek or a nerd obsessed with subjects of no interest to most of the population. Perhaps a poor analogy for a game that needs all the viewers it can get, but McDowell made his point.
Snitch. McDowell was hardly the first pro golfer to speak up about the tours accepting rulings advice from the at-home gallery. Fellow Abu Dhabi competitor, Ian Poulter, has been quite outspoken about his distaste for such goings-on. He called the golf fan who tweeted PGA Tour officials about a Camilo Villegas violation earlier this month a “snitch.”
The irony of the latest infraction was not lost on golfer Paul McGinley, who noted that Harrington’s boot occurred in the same week that the Euro Tour banned Scottish golfer Elliot Saltman for three months for repeatedly moving his ball during a tournament last year.
“Isn’t it ironic that in a week when we had a major rules infringement dealt with it should be someone as squeaky clean as Padraig who gets disqualified,’ McGinley said for the Record.
Meanwhile, on the course in Abu Dhabi, Kaymer, at 18-under heading into final-round play, was five shots clear of Rory McIlroy. Phil Mickelson who shares fourth place in golf’s rankings with McDowell, was 3-under, and the world’s No. 1 Lee Westwood was tied for 65th at 1-over.
On a side note, barring an uncharacteristic meltdown, Kaymer was likely to oust Tiger Woods from his No. 2 spot in the world golf rankings.
Tired of pro golfers being subject to discipline from the bleacher seats? Read how the tours should just hang up on stay-at-home rules nerds.