The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Time golf used commonsense

It might be a heresy to golfing purists, but I think that the time has come for the game’s leaders to introduce some commonsense into their rules.

On Saturday, we saw one of the sport’s most popular personalities, a man who has fought back from a long injury battle, shoot one of the greatest rounds of his life only to have it snatched away by a technicality. It just doesn’t seem right.

It is beyond belief that Mark Roe forgot to exchange scorecards with Jesper Parnevik in the first place, and even more incredible that, having signed for the wrong card, the error was not even spotted until well after Roe had completed television and radio interviews.

But the biggest absurdity of all is a rulebook that allows someone to be disqualified for no more than an administrative oversight. He was certainly not gaining an advantage in any way whatsoever and, though people will argue that the rules are the same for everybody, it does not seem that natural justice has been served.

I’ve known Mark for years and he is one player whom I think everyone would love to do well, which makes what happened on Saturday especially sad.

It reminded me of the controversy surrounding the extra club in Ian Woosnam’s bag at Lytham two years ago, a mistake for which Woosie was penalised two strokes despite being in no way to blame, but this time the punishment was even harsher.

The Royal & Ancient (R&A) had no choice but to disqualify Roe according to the current rules, but maybe it is now time, in the interests of commonsense, for another look at the regulations. Surely some loophole can be devised that gives scope for leniency in exceptional circumstances.

It is a shame that on the day when we saw Tiger Woods back to his brilliant best, the action on the course should be clouded by events off it. The best you can say about it is that the huge galleries thronging Royal St George’s have not been starved of drama.

With one day to go, it is already proving one of the most memorable Opens. The course has more than played its part. I had the chance to play it on Tuesday and can reveal that I managed to finish with a score of 74. The bad news is that I missed out holes 12, 13, 14, 15. In fact, if I’m totally honest, 74 is actually a rough estimate. It doesn’t pay to be too pedantic when you are playing at Sandwich.

I am very fortunate to have played with a lot of top golfers in my time, certainly enough to know that there is a massive difference between a low-handicap player like myself and the pick of the world’s professionals. But it crossed my mind as I walked off the 18th last week that if anyone went out and shot 64s and 65s for all four days, I would seriously consider giving the game up.

Thankfully, that has not been the case, so I shall be content to continue my never-ending search for mediocrity.

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