Prior to the start of the third round of the Wyndham Championship, Charles Howell III was disqualified for unintentionally violating Rule 4-1a for using a non-conforming driver. Howell’s club became illegal when the “toe cap” — weighing less than a gram — fell off during his warm-up before the second round.
In a game of what sounds like telephone, a PGA Tour rules official was informed of the breach by USGA staff member, according to Golfweek’s Adam Schupak:
PGA Tour rules official Tony Wallin said he received a call from John Mutch, another Tour official, around 7:30 a.m. on Saturday. Mutch was alerted to the possible rules infraction by a U.S. Golf Association staff member, Wallin said. (It is still unclear who informed the USGA that Howell’s driver might be non-conforming.)
Howell, who shared 10th place at 6 under after shooting a 68 in the second round, was using a TaylorMade SLDR driver he put in play two weeks ago.
When Wallin informed Howell of the infraction before his 8:45 a.m. tee time, Howell said, “That kind of means I’m gone.”
Indeed, it does.
“What that little port cover coming off did was made the club non-conforming because there’s a little hole under that cover that they use to put a hot wax weight in the club and without that cover on there, the club has a hole through it which you cannot have,” Wallin said. “You cannot have a hole that’s uncovered into the club or going through the club. So that’s what made the club non-conforming.”
Howell released in a written explanation:
“The small toe-cap (weighing less than a gram) came off the driver head during my warm-up for the second round in Greensboro. Prior to teeing off, I spoke to the guys at TaylorMade about the toe-cap coming off to be sure that it wouldn’t impact the performance of the club. I was assured it would not effect the club’s performance. The idea that the club would no longer be conforming, because of the missing toe-cap, never entered my mind.”
No biggie, Charles, it would never enter ours, either (at least 99.9% of us whose jobs don’t require us to know these minuscule details).
TaylorMade issued an official statement, too:
“TaylorMade has been making drivers with movable parts since 2004,” said Dave Cordero, a TaylorMade public relations manager. “What happened in the case of Charles Howell III’s driver is very rare and we will make the necessary adjustments to ensure this does not happen again.”
So, I get it, rules are rules, and Howell basically got a really crappy break, but file this under: “stupid reasons to get disqualified.” Before purists and rules nazis go bonkers, I understand why he was DQ’d and the rules are in place to protect the game — and that’s very important. Still, it’s an unfortunate situation, especially since Howell was in contention.
This is is how it sounds like when I try to explain what happened to my non-golfing roommate.
Me: “Carson, this guy was disqualified because a tiny piece of his driver fell off his club.”
Me: <grabbing a driver out of bag> “Pretend there’s a piece called a “toe cap” here that weighs almost nothing. It fell off this guy’s club and he played with it because he didn’t know that the tiny piece breaking off made his driver illegal.”
Carson: “Um, why did it?”
Me: “Never mind.”
(Photo USA Today Sports)