Spanish golfer Miguel Angel Martin was disqualified from the Daily Telegraph Dunlop Masters at the Forest of Arden today – after an opening 71 had put him in contention for the first prize.
The 43-year-old, no stranger to controversy, was judged to have improved his stance in the trees on the ninth hole.
A television viewer got in touch with the European tour and chief referee John Paramor said: “He took a stance on a small sapling which he felt may injure him as it had small thorns on it.
“As he could have taken his stance without treading on it he was in breach of Rule 13-2, which incurs a penalty of two strokes.
“Unfortunately, the television coverage was delayed and by the time we were alerted Miguel Angel had completed his round and signed his card.”
Martin commented: “I fully accept the decision, although I have made it quite clear that in no way did I think I was breaking the rules.”
In 1997 Martin qualified for the Ryder Cup, but was injured at the time and in a bitter war of words with captain and compatriot Seve Ballesteros he threatened legal action after he was asked to take a fitness test.
Three years ago there were accusations at the Portuguese Open he had used a fairway wood to improve his lie. Playing partner Maarten Lafeber refused to sign his scorecard, but he was not penalised on that occasion.