CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Padraig Harrington avoided his second disqualification of the year Sunday after a spectator questioned where he teed off too far forward on the 13th hole in the Wells Fargo Championship.
Harrington thought his once-promising final round was over after consecutive bogeys gave him a 4-under 68 and ended his faint chances at Quail Hollow. But when he got back to the scorer's area, a PGA Tour official informed him a fan near the 13th tee told a marshal he thought Harrington hit ahead of the markers.
"If somebody asked me, I would have sworn I was 6 inches behind the marker," said Harrington, who had re-teed once to move the ball back before hitting on the par 3.
But if it was determined the Irish star had hit illegally, his tie for ninth place would be wiped out because the error would need to be corrected immediately. So he and playing partner Phil Mickelson loaded into a golf cart to go back to the 13th tee.
They couldn't find the correct divot and TV replays were no help.
"There's no doubt it was tight, but it was inconclusive," Harrington said. "You could jump in there and say it's tight, but it's really not a situation to take a penalty. Especially — maybe I get lost in the moment — but caddies and Phil, there's no way we're all going to get lost in the moment enough."
"It's things like this as a player you never want to get called into question," Mickelson said. "You value your integrity more than anything — and Padraig has more integrity than anybody out here."
Harrington said PGA Tour officials told him it was his call, and he was comfortable in keeping his score.
"I'm standing up for myself," he said. "It's not conclusive so we can't go down that road."
Harrington was disqualified after opening with a 65 in the Abu Dhabi Championship this year when a slow-motion replay on high-definition television revealed that his ball moved ever so slightly after he replaced his marker.
Harrington knew the rule, but did not realize it had moved. It should have been a two-shot penalty, but because it was discovered after the round, he was disqualified for signing an incorrect card.
The Royal & Ancient and USGA decided a month ago to revise this rules decision so that players who learn of a violation after they sign their cards can be penalized without disqualification.
The latest rules question ended without penalty and a little ribbing.
As Harrington told reporters this wouldn't effect his game going forward, Mickelson interrupted him.
"What do you mean?" Mickelson said. "You just said you were going to tee off way back."
Harrington replied that he'd be "falling off the back of the tee." next time.
"That's why I was hitting outside Phil all day," Harrington added, smiling.