Haotong Li ruling branded ‘ridiculous’ and a ‘disgrace’ by fellow pros


Haotong Li ruling at the Dubai Desert Classic has been branded ‘ridiculous’, a ‘disgrace’ and ‘shockingly bad’ by fellow Tour pros 

Haotong Li was penalised two shots on the 72nd hole on Sunday at the Dubai Desert Classic for breaking one of the new rules of golf, but many weren’t happy with the interpretation. 

Li was playing in the final group with Bryson DeChambeau and was lining up his short birdie putt, while his caddie stood behind him. When Li was about to take up his stance his caddie Mike Burrow moved away, and he rolled in the putt to finish in a share of third place with a final round 71. 

Instead, the European Tour deemed him in breach of the new ruling which prevents caddies from helping their players with alignment. The penalty left him in a tie for 12th at 14-under instead of third at 16-under, costing him nearly $100,000, and saw many call out the rules afterwards. 

“Li Haotong’s caddie was on a direct line behind the ball when he began to take his stance on the 18th green,” said the European Tour statement. “The player’s caddie must not stand behind the player for any reason when a player begins taking a stance.

“Haotong could have avoided the penalty if he had backed off the stroke and retaken his stance. He did not, hence a two-stroke penalty applied to his score on 18.”

The video shows what has been deemed a ‘harsh’ and ‘marginal’ ruling, and has seen Tour Pro’s like Pablo Larrazabal asking for the new rules to be looked at as many claim Burrow wasn’t trying to align him.

Elsewhere, Matt Wallace called it ‘ridiculous’, Ross Fisher deemed it ‘a disgrace’, Eddie Pepperell felt it was ‘shockingly bad’, and others called out the fact that slow play seems to still be allowed to escape the rules. 

Since the original backlash, European Tour CEO Keith Pelley has issued a statement, calling the ruling ‘grossly unfair’ and stating that he has voiced his ‘opposition to the fact there is no discretion available to our referees in relation to this ruling’. Read statement here 

Richard Bland wanted them to clearly explain the rules farce. 

Richie Ramsay clearly felt it was unfair on Li, costing him not just money but world ranking points. 

Paul McGinely also made his feelings known, calling it ridiculously marginal, and David Howell soon responded by calling it ‘utterly ridiculous’. 

Eddie Pepperell dubbed it a ‘shockingly bad’ decision. 

While Graeme McDowell called it ‘awfully harsh’. 

William McGirt went a step further, accusing the USGA and R&A of getting it wrong again. 

While Ross Fisher called out the reaction to slow play, and went on to tweet again later, calling the whole thing a disgrace. 

Other reactions, from Matt Wallace and Lee Westwood, also branded the ruling ‘harsh’ and ‘ridiculous’. 

- Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this page, we never allow this to influence product selections.