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Harrington disqualified in Abu Dhabi

For the second time in his career Pádraig Harrington has been disqualified from an event he had a good chance of winning, RTE reports.

The three-time major winner, one off the lead overnight at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, did not tee off in the second round after being called to review an incident in his opening 65.

On the seventh green Harrington's hand brushed the back of his ball as he replaced it in front of his marker.

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The ball rocked forward and although the Dubliner thought at the time that it then returned to his original position, television slow-motion showed that it did not go all the way back.

A viewer brought the matter to the attention of the European Tour after Harrington had signed his scorecard and because of that the punishment was disqualification rather than a two-shot penalty.

He was indeed disqualified after a 30-minute review of the incident with European Tour senior referee Andy McFee.

Eleven years ago he was five ahead with a round to go in the Benson and Hedges International at the Belfry, but it was then discovered that he had not signed his first day scorecard.

Harrington said: “I was aware I hit the ball picking up my coin. I looked down at the time and was pretty sure it had just oscillated and had not moved, so I continued on.

“In slow motion it's pretty clear the ball has moved three dimples forward and it's come back maybe a dimple and a half.

“At the end of the day that's good enough, but I wouldn't have done anything differently yesterday - there was nothing I could do about it at that moment in time.

“If I'd called a referee over it would have been pointless because if he'd asked me where my ball was I'd have said it was there. As far as I was concerned it didn't move.”

Tour senior referee Andy McFee, who also disqualified Harrington 11 years ago, stated: “I got an email from the Tour feedback site just before six o'clock last night.

“I managed to get a look and knew immediately we had an issue. I got all members of the rules committee to look at the tape. Because everything was closing down I decided to sleep on it and speak to Padraig first thing this morning.

“It's a minute movement, but it's a movement and he never replaced it, so he should have included a two-stroke penalty.

“The fact that he is unaware he moved the ball unfortunately does not help him. Because he signed for a score lower than actually taken the penalty is disqualification.”

It is only two months ago, of course, that Ian Poulter lost a play-off for the Dubai World Championship after he dropped his ball on his marker and it flipped over.