KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY (Saudi Arabia) • Spain's Sergio Garcia was disqualified from the inaugural Saudi International yesterday for serious misconduct.
The world No. 27, the Masters champion in 2017, shot a one-over 71 but is believed to have damaged a couple of greens at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club after slamming his putter in frustration.
He thus became the first player on the European Tour to be disqualified under Rule 1.2a, which deals with player conduct. The rule declares that "players are expected to play in the spirit of the game by acting with integrity, showing consideration to others and taking good care of the course".
Garcia, who tied for seventh at the SMBC Singapore Open just two weeks ago, apologised for his behaviour and said in a statement released by the Tour: "I respect the decision of my disqualification.
"In frustration, I damaged a couple of greens, for which I apologise, and I have informed my fellow players it will never happen again."
Some players reported deep indentation marks on a couple of holes, including the seventh, although the Tour did not name the holes on which the alleged transgressions took place.
Garcia was playing with Italy's Renato Paratore and was later seen involved in long discussions with Tour officials, including chief executive Keith Pelley.
American Dustin Johnson (65) and China's Li Haotong (62) lead the field on 16-under 194.
Meanwhile, world No. 1 Justin Rose has announced that he will take a month off after missing the cut on Friday.
The Englishman shot 70 and 72 to miss the cut by two strokes with his two-over 142 total and will not return to action until the March 7-10 Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida, where he will start his build-up towards the year's first Major, the April 11-14 Masters at Augusta National.
He cited jet lag for his underwhelming performance in Saudi Arabia and said his focus now was on "freshening up for the Masters".
"My goal is to win more and to win Major championships this year," he added.
In Arizona, Rickie Fowler birdied the final four holes but could not shake off his buddy and housemate Justin Thomas, who could only par his last three in the second round of the Phoenix Open.
Fowler fired a six-under 65 at Scottsdale TPC for a 13-under 129 total, one in front of Thomas (66) and two clear of South African Branden Grace, whose 64 was the best score on Friday.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
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