Four players get marching orders

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Four players were disqualified in Thursday’s first round of the French Open for making incorrect penalty drops.

Four players were disqualified in Thursday’s first round of the French Open for making incorrect penalty drops at the Le Golf National’s 18th hole.

They are 2008 China Open winner Damien McGrane of Ireland, South African Jaco Van Zyl, Rikard Karlberg of Sweden and Britain’s James Ruebotham.

All four hit balls into the lake at the 18th, played from incorrect penalty drops and then, because they had left the scorers hut unaware they had broken any rule, were disqualified for signing for a wrong score.

All the players in the field had been informed of the correct way to drop the ball at 18 in text sheets handed to them before they teed off.

The sheets were also displayed on notice-boards, but it was not until the afternoon field went out that rules officials were on hand to give advice when needed or to warn players if they made incorrect drops.

“One player said he had read the notice explaining how to drop the ball correctly but forgot it and the other three said they had not read the notice,” the European Tour’s chief referee, Andy McFee, told reporters.

“This rule was in force last year and we didn’t have one disqualification. I’m bemused.”

McGrane held up his hands, saying: “I didn’t read the notices and my caddie misinterpreted them.”

The four disqualifications happened during morning rounds and there is bound to be criticism that rules officials were later brought on to keep an eye on the afternoon field.

McFee said he did not consider it unfair that the four disqualified players had not had the same advantage, but there were a good few who found his explanation unacceptable that, “Sometimes we have a referee on a hole, sometimes we don’t.”

It was the greatest number of disqualification in any European Tour event since 1990 when six players were sent packing during the first round of the AGF Open at La Grand Motte in Montpellier, for removing out of bound posts which were considered immovable objects

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