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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 317
THE HAOTONG COPS A HOWLER T he 2019 changes to the Rules of Golf have caused its first significant controversy. Although brought about due to the more prevalent use of caddies to line players up in women’s professional golf, it was the men’s game where rule 10.2b (4) created the first significant rules drama of the new year. The rule, which states that a caddie must not stand on the player’s line once they begin taking their stance, was enacted against China’s Haotong Li as he putted out on the 72nd at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Li’s caddie had his head down and was walking away as the defending champion stood over his putt, but rules officials assessed him a two-shot penalty that dropped him from T3 to T12 and cost around US$100,000. The R&A issued a statement confirming that the rule was properly applied and although agreeing, European Tour CEO Keith Pelley indicated a desire for referees to have a degree discretion in future. “Everyone I have spoken to about this believes, as I do, that there was no malice or intent from Li Haotong, nor did he gain any advantage from his, or his caddie’s split-second actions,” Pelley said. “Therefore the subsequent two-shot penalty, which moved him from T3 in the tournament to T12, was grossly unfair in my opinion.” Moment
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GA Express 318