Watchers of the final round tv broadcast of the Wells Fargo Championship were “treated” to the tawdry spectacle of Padraig Harrington and Phil Mickelson being carted back to the thirteenth hole after their round was over to inspect divots on the tee box. It seems that a spectator had told a Marshall—long after the pair had walked away from the hole—that Harrington had teed up in front of the markers. The two finished their round, and had signed their scorecards before being informed of the accusations.
Harrington and Mickelson spent a ridiculous amount of time inspecting divots and trying to determine—after several hours of play—which one was Harrington’s. The theory was that the divot would indicate ball placement. In the end, there was no conclusion, and both Harrington and Mickelson said they were sure that no rule had been violated.
Putting aside the absurdity of Harrington missing the tee line—a point which he argued strongly about during the “inquiry”—the PGA Tour has to put a statute of limitations on these sort of ex post facto penalties. I understand the need to protect the field, but if a penalty hasn’t been brought to attention before the signing of the card it should be ignored. The Tour can always impose a penalty later—suspension from tournaments or a penalty—if it believes the error was egregious.