Ryuji Imada incurred a 26-stroke penalty in the first round of the Mission Hills Star Trophy, a celebrity pro-am event in China, on Saturday, according to the Golf Channel. Yes, you read that correctly: 26.
Imada, a PGA Tour member, received 13 separate two-stroke penalties. Because of the soft course conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their balls. When this rule is put in effect on the PGA Tour, players are allowed a club length distance to place the ball, so Imada wrongly assumed it was the same. The European and Asian tours permit a scorecard length.
How was Imada supposed to know? Well, remember how important it is to read the local rules sheet? Just ask Dustin Johnson. So yeah, you guessed it. Imada didn’t read the local rules sheet, which clarified the scorecard length as measurement. It wasn’t until the 12th hole that playing partner Danny Lee noticed Imada was breaking the rule and informed him.
After the round, Imada conferred with tournament director David Parkin. He could not remember exactly how many times he had broken the rule, but took an educated guess that it was a maximum of 13.
Parkin accepted that figure and instructed Imada to add 26 strokes and sign for a 24-over 97.
“I’m an idiot,” said Imada, who admitted he had not read the local rules sheet.
Sorry, but I had to chuckle a bit at the “educated guess” part. Well, heck, at the whole thing. I can just imagine Imada’s reaction, but from my limited interactions with him, he has a good sense of humor. I’m sure his friends won’t let him forget about his gaffe, though.
On the upside, at least he broke 100. More important, it wasn’t a major championship. Oh, and he wasn’t the only pro to mess up.
Nick Faldo was disqualified after picking up his ball without putting out on the 8th green. He was probably having too much fun and wasn’t aware that within the pro-am celebrity format, there was also a professionals-only tournament. Faldo teed off on No. 9 before realizing his mistake and returning to putt out (with a two-stroke penalty, of course).
Doh! Whatever, it was a celebrity schmooze event.