Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Sergio Garcia accepts disqualification from Saudi International

Spaniard says sorry for misconduct after damaging greens with putter Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City

Sergio Garcia of Spain did not have a happy day in the office on Saturday. Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images
Sergio Garcia of Spain did not have a happy day in the office on Saturday. Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images

Sergio Garcia has apologised after he was disqualified from the inaugural Saudi International by the European Tour for serious misconduct.

The 2017 US Masters winner was reported to have damaged a number of greens at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City with his putter during his round of 71 on Saturday.

That had left him level-par for the tournament, 16 shots off the lead pair of Dustin Johnson and Li Haotong, but after an investigation into his behaviour he was sent home and will not play in Sunday’s final round of the event.

"I respect the decision of my disqualification,” the Spaniard said in a statement.

“In frustration, I damaged a couple of greens, for which I apologise for, and I have informed my fellow players it will never happen again.”

Meanwhile at the front, two eagles at the final two holes not only allowed Li to make history but also put him level at the top of the leaderboard with world No 3 Johnson.

Li had already claimed eagles at the first and the 10th before his late flurry meant he was the first player since Mark Pilkington in 2007 to hit four in one round at an European Tour event.

In total Li hit four eagles and two birdies in his round of 62 that left him on 16-under, the only negative being a double bogey on the sixth.

Of his success, the 23-year-old said: “I think I was very, very lucky today.

“The last couple of shots were really solid, but except that, honestly, my play wasn't good. I want to play my best and enjoy myself in the final round.”

The American Dustin Johnson is tied at the top of the leaderboard in Saudi Arabia with China's Li Haotong. Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images
The American Dustin Johnson is tied at the top of the leaderboard in Saudi Arabia with China's Li Haotong. Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images

Johnson, who had taken charge of the tournament on Friday with a nine-under 61, had led throughout Saturday as his 65 ensured he had a gap of at least three shots on the opposition for most of the day.

But he will be wary of the man he who will be his playing partner in the final round after Li had overcome four-time major winner Rory McIlroy in a final-day shootout to prevail in Dubai last January.

“Four eagles in a golf tournament is pretty good, but four in one round, I’d take that any day,” Johnson said.

“If I want to get it done tomorrow, I'm going to have to play really good golf. He is a good player and he's been playing well. I’ll just go out, play my game and not worry about what he's doing. I'm looking forward to it.”

With Saturday’s early morning pairs benefitting from calmer conditions, a number of challengers posted solid scores.

The contenders were led by Englishman Tom Lewis, who carded a bogey-free round of 62 to climb to 11-under and third spot.

“I was really pleased, I played very well. I love having rounds with no dropped shots. I made a lot of good putts out there. Tomorrow is a big day and I'm excited about going out there,” Lewis said.

Alexander Levy and Ryan Fox share fourth spot on seven-under, but both men will know they need big final days, and problems for those ahead of them, if they are to prevail and be crowned champion.

Updated: February 2, 2019 09:14 PM

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