Padraig Harrington had a brush with disqualification on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Championship when a spectator claimed to have observed the Irishman playing from in front of the markers on the tee of the par-3 thirteenth.
In spite of the fact that both Harrington and playing partner Phil Mickelson noticed no such infraction at the time and could both cite separate reasons for being especially vigilant, the challenge prompted a lengthy footage review and a surreal inspection of the tee box in question for incriminating divots. Eventually, after the investigation failed to offer conclusive evidence of a rules violation, Harrington emerged with his final round 68 intact.
Frustrated, perhaps, by the manner in which the aggregate sum of his entire week’s work had been called into question, by the specious determinations of a random observer no less, Harrington sounded uncharacteristically trenchant in a post-round interview with CBS:
“For once I am not going to be a martyr and take it.. It’s not conclusive so there’s no penalty.
“This one is particularly inconclusive,’ Harrington said. “There’s just no reason to say yes, even though it’s certainly close when look at it on TV. The left marker is good; the right marker looks a bit iffy. At the end of the day it’s inconclusive and that’s where it stays.”
According to Harrington, he purposefully narrowed his margin for error on the tee as means of guaranteeing his 6-iron could reach the green. That explanation would suggest Harrington was actually more careful than usual about where he teed his ball, a suspicion validated somewhat by the observations of Phil Mickelson, who claims to have noticed Harrington monitoring his position on the tee very carefully, even going so far as to re-tee his ball. For his part, Mickelson had no doubts about the ruling:
“It’s not an issue… Padraig is one of the most honorable guys we have on TOUR.”
Harrington, of course, is no stranger to rules controversy, having endured very public disqualifications at both this year’s Abu Dhabi Championship, after carding and opening round 65 to lead the event, and the 2000 Benson & Hedges Invitational, just prior to entering the final round with a five-shot lead.