2004: Norman makes early exit at Honda Classic

Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Almost six months had passed since Greg Norman played a PGA Tour event and it took only 31 holes at Mirasol’s Sunrise course to send him packing.

Norman, who was playing the Honda Classic for the first time since 1996, was at even par and on the cut line midway through Round 2 when he disqualified himself for incorrectly playing a provisional ball.

The infraction occurred when Norman hit his tee shot at the 13th into what he believed was a water hazard and informed playing partners Fred Couples and Charles Howell III he would play a provisional, which he hit to the middle of the fairway.

“You can only play a provisional ball for a lost ball or a ball out of bounds,” said Slugger White, a PGA Tour tournament director. “He hit this provisional ball, which becomes the ball in play.”

Norman was informed of his gaffe by NBC analyst Roger Maltbie before leaving the 13th tee but the Aussie ignored the warning. Instead, he found his first tee shot in a fairway bunker and played out the hole with the original ball, making a bogey 5.

Maltbie informed rules officials of Norman’s miscue who approached the player after he’d putted out on No. 13. Norman could have gone back to the 13th fairway and hit his second tee shot, which became the live ball, and played what should have been his sixth shot. Instead, Norman disqualified himself and officials whisked him to the parking lot.

“Greg is trying to portray his disqualification as though it were an honorable thing he did,” Maltbie said. “He could have played on under the rules of the game. It was his decision not to play by the rules and complete the round.

“Can you imagine Jack (Nicklaus) or Arnold (Palmer) ever doing that?”

A day later, Norman conceded he erred but took issue with Maltbie’s assessment of the episode.

“What Roger said was complete B.S.,” Norman told The Palm Beach Post. “He’s not in the position to make a judgment call on myself. It’s like (NBC analyst) Johnny Miller saying what he said about Craig Parry last week.

“You don’t make comments and statements unless you know the facts.”

– Rex Hoggard and Alex Miceli

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