Howell III receives DQ for non-conforming club
GREENSBORO, N.C. –– Charles Howell III was disqualified prior to the start of Saturday's third round of the Wyndham Championship for violating Rule 4-1a, using a non-conforming driver, during the second round.
PGA Tour rules official Tony Wallin said he received a call from John Mutch, another Tour official, around 7:30 a.m. on Saturday. Mutch was alerted to the possible rules infraction by a U.S. Golf Association staff member, Wallin said. (It is still unclear who informed the USGA that Howell’s driver might be non-conforming.)
Howell, who shared 10th place at 6 under after shooting a 68 in the second round, was using a TaylorMade SLDR driver he put in play two weeks ago.
“The small toe-cap (weighing less than a gram) came off the driver head during my warm-up for the second round in Greensboro,” Howell explained in a written statement. “Prior to teeing off, I spoke to the guys at TaylorMade about the toe-cap coming off to be sure that it wouldn't impact the performance of the club. I was assured it would not effect the club's performance. The idea that the club would no longer be conforming, because of the missing toe-cap, never entered my mind.”
When Wallin informed Howell of the infraction before his 8:45 a.m. tee time, Howell said, “That kind of means I’m gone.”
Indeed, it does.
“What that little port cover coming off did was made the club non-conforming because there’s a little hole under that cover that they use to put a hot wax weight in the club and without that cover on there, the club has a hole through it which you cannot have,” Wallin said. “You cannot have a hole that’s uncovered into the club or going through the club. So that’s what made the club non-conforming.”
TaylorMade released a statement on Saturday afternoon.
“TaylorMade has been making drivers with movable parts since 2004,” said Dave Cordero, a TaylorMade public relations manager. “What happened in the case of Charles Howell III’s driver is very rare and we will make the necessary adjustments to ensure this does not happen again.”
Howell, who entered the week ranked No. 24 in the FedEx Cup standings, lost an opportunity to improve his hold on a coveted position inside the top 30 and a berth in the Tour Championship. But Howell won’t be benching the damaged club. He confirmed that the repaired SLDR driver will be back in his bag next week at The Barclays.