Tragedy strikes down Ghei; gets disqualified in Johnnie Walker golf

March 1st, 2008 - 4:36 pm ICT by admin  

V Krishnaswamy
Gurgaon, March 1 (IANS) The cheers had hardly died down as Gaurav Ghei walked off the course to submit his card of a brilliant seven-under 65, when the cruel rules of golf claimed yet another victim. One of the most admired and loved Indian golfers was struck off the leaderboard at the Johnnie Walker Classic at the DLF Golf and Country Club, with the two most dreaded letters - DQ — against his name. Only a few moments ago, the same leaderboard had showed ‘- 9′ and placed him in third place, one shot behind Shiv Kapur and Unho Park, who were yet to tee off for the third round.

Not knowing what fate was in store for him, Ghei, who made the weekend rounds just on the cut line, went out and played a superb third round of 65 and zoomed up the leaderboard. No sooner had he finished the round, he was met by the Chief Referee, John Paramor.

An hour later, after lot of deliberations and watching the second round tapes in the TV compound, Ghei was disqualified.

A devastated Ghei, three-time winner on the Asian Tour, just said, “It’s deeply disappointing and it’s a shame that all the people around and the referee did not spot the incident near the 18th green.”

A grave-looking Paramor came to the media room and officially announced, “Good afternoon, it’s not a very good afternoon for me as it’s resulted in a few moments ago the disqualification of Gaurav Ghei. The situation was overnight, I received a text message from one of my colleagues who had been watching the golf coverage the previous evening and they noted on the coverage that Gaurav Ghei’s ball moved on the 18th as a result of him putting his club behind the ball to assess the lie having taken relief from the cart path.

“Unfortunately, no one in the immediate area saw the ball moved but clearly on reviewing the TV pictures, this has happened. The ball does move, all be it a very small distance. The situation is clear. He is penalised for the ball moving. If it had been noted before he played his next stroke, he could have corrected the error and save himself a further penalty. In other words, it would have been just a one-stroke penalty had he replaced it. He failed to replace it so that would have meant a total penalty of two that was not added to his second round score.

So therefore, he has signed for a score lower than was actually taken and is disqualified from the second round. That in a nutshell was what happened.”

Ghei’s second shot had come to rest very close to the cart path and he took relief from the cart path and it was just before he played the chip shot on to the 18th green.

Paramor made it clear, that Ghei himself seemed unaware of the movement.

“No, Gaurav didn’t see the ball moved. The movement was so small. It was probably a centimetre at most, around a quarter of an inch, less than a centimetre. And whether he thought the ball had just wobbled or oscillated, that was quite possible. But if you look at the TV pictures, it is reasonably clear that the ball does move this very small distance. But it’s quite possible that it was missed by people standing around there.”

Explaining the rule, Paramor said, “If a ball moves, not as a result of a stroke and a player caused it to move, you replace the ball with a one stroke penalty. If you don’t replace the ball, then you have a further stroke penalty effectively. It’s a rather complicated way under the rules of golf but in fact it’s a two stroke penalty for not putting the ball back and the first penalty is cancelled. But it’s a total of two for not putting it back.”

He pointed out a similar situation involving Miguel Angel Jimenez in Qatar.

While an extremely upset Ghei naturally having left the course soon after issuing a one sentence statement, Paramor said, “He was clearly devastated and extremely upset. To be honest, if I could get him out of the penalty, I would have tried every single way that I could, even if I had to wake up one of my colleagues in the UK and see if he could think of anything. There wasn’t room for maneuvering on this.”

Could the problem have been avoided?

Paramor explained, “In terms of timing, I had this text overnight. I knew there was a potential problem. But I am never ever going to apply any penalty until I’ve seen it myself. But the time the television compound was alive this morning and by the time I got there and reviewed it, Gaurav was already playing the 18th hole. By the time we came to the conclusion that yes, the ball had certainly moved, and we wanted to show it to him, I’d kept him waiting at the recorder’s area and I picked him up and showed it to him.”

But the irony is that if Ghei had taken a penalty - whether one or two shots - he would have missed the cut, as he was then right on the cut mark of two-under.

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