China’s Haotong Li was the first Tour professional to be significantly and negatively impacted by the updated Rules of Golf on Sunday when he was assessed a two-stroke penalty following the conclusion of his final round at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
Li was dinged for what European Tour officials deemed to be a breach of Rule 10-2b(4), which prohibits a caddie from standing behind a player to help line him or her up.
Having played 71 holes without an issue, Li faced a birdie putt on the 18th green at Emirates Golf Club that would move him into a tie for third place. As he and his caddie, Mark Burrow, went through their paces of reading the putt, Burrow lingered slightly too long behind Li, breaking the rule.
The new rule reads, “When a player begins taking a stance for the stroke and until the stroke is made, the player’s caddie must not deliberately stand in a location on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball for any reason.
“When the player’s ball is on the putting green, there is no penalty under this Rule if the player backs away from the stance and does not begin to take the stance again until after the caddie has moved out of that location.”
Awful decision as caddie has walked away before putter even behind the ball or player has taken his stance Feel sorry for the caddie as he will be gutted, how about @EuropeanTour officials start enforcing the rules on slow play which is killing the game, painful to watch today https://t.co/RN02ZQm9ya
— Paul Lawrie (@PaulLawriegolf) January 27, 2019
The infraction comes with a two-stroke penalty, turning Li’s birdie putt and 1-under par 70 into a bogey putt and a 1-over par 73, which dropped him from a tie for third alongside Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Alvaro Quiros and Paul Waring into a tie for 12th alongside Ernie Els, Shane Lowry and Byeong-hun An.
The penalty resulted in Li banking €45,234 as opposed to the €135,774 he would have earned for his third-place tie, a difference after exchange rates of $103,241.33.
Li didn’t speak to the media after being informed of the penalty, but plenty of others spoke up for him on social media.
Hard to believe @haotong_li has been penalised for this. Frankly, I think it’s a shockingly bad decision and for the life of me I cannot see how Mike has lined Haotong up here ??♂️. https://t.co/cJ4OZZbRKk
— Eddie Pepperell (@PepperellEddie) January 28, 2019
— William McGirt (@WilliamMcGirt) January 27, 2019
2 things to happen Monday. Appreciate just how good @JustinRose99 is!!!!!! Look at the new rule given to @haotong_li. Clearly no intent to align, very marginal when stance and caddie move. Cost him well deserved WR points
— Richie Ramsay (@RamsayGolf) January 28, 2019