Haotong Li was in a tie for third place heading into the 18th hole at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in the UAE on Sunday. Then the Chinese pro golfer’s caddie stood in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Mike Burrow apparently broke a new golfing rule that went into effect January 1, 2019, stating that a caddie cannot “deliberately stand on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the player’s ball when the player begins taking a stance for the stroke and until the stroke is made.” Officials decided Burrow had been within Li’s line of play, costing Li two strokes and sending him to 12th place—which, in effect, also cost him nearly $100,000 in prize money.
The video replay is not helping stem the controversy: footage shows Burrow strolling away before Li got into position, but it was ruled Li had already been “in his stance”; the clip circulating online shows Burrow stepping away at the exact same moment Li starts to assume his position.
— Brian McKinley (@brijon5555) January 27, 2019
SB Nation calls it an “irrelevant ticky-tack interpretation,” while fellow pro golfer Paul McGinley tweets, “This is so ridiculously marginal. The player should be given the benefit of the doubt. The rule changes are largely about the spirit of the game & player integrity not this pedanticness.” Li himself seemed to be slowly but surely getting over the sting of his big loss: early Monday, he posted a photo of himself hugging an unidentified child, tweeting, “Such a tough day until i saw this lovely picture.”
Such a tough day until i saw this lovely picture thank you Audrey❤️ pic.twitter.com/2LdJXkVELG
— Haotong Li (@haotong_li) January 28, 2019