Greg Norman, who handled his historic collapse at the Masters in April so well, exited with equal grace from the Greater Hartford Open in Cromwell, Conn., after he was disqualified late Friday for using an improperly labeled ball.
Norman had informed golf officials that there might be a problem with the ball he was testing for Maxfli during the first two rounds.
Golf officials said the ball was physically identical to one approved by the U.S. Golf Assn., but was labeled with a stamp number that designated it as one not on the USGA’s list of conforming balls.
“You live by the rules of the game,” said Norman, in good spirits Saturday morning though the mix-up cost him a good chance to become the tournament’s first repeat champion.
Norman was five strokes off the lead at the halfway mark. He won the tournament last year with a course-record 13-under 267.
“It’s just an oversight, I think, by the research and development department of Maxfli, not understanding that the stamping has to be the identical stamping of the ball that has been approved by the USGA,” he said.
Maxfli tried reaching Norman on Friday night to tell him there might be a problem with the stamp on the ball. That phone call set off a chain reaction: Norman phoned Ben Nelson, the PGA tournament director, and Nelson called Frank Thomas, USGA technical director.
The USGA disqualified Norman because of the stamp.
Lee Patterson, a PGA spokesman, said tour officials had never heard of a similar disqualification.
“You know, I’m sure there’s going to be a few disappointed people out there--and a few happy golfers,” Norman said. “But the fact is, I could have easily won this golf tournament.”
D.A. Weibring shot an even-par 70 Saturday to take sole possession of the lead. He is at 203, one stroke ahead of second-round leader Kevin Sutherland, who had a 72.
Robert Gamez was at 205 after a 66. Mike Brisky, Tom Kite and Mark Calcavecchia are at 206.
Isao Aoki shot a two-under 69 to take a one-stroke lead over defending champion Mike Hill and Bob E. Smith after two rounds of the Kroger Senior Classic at Mason, Ohio.
Amy Benz shot a five-under 66 for a three-stroke lead in the ShopRite LPGA Classic at Somers Point, N.J. Her total of 12-under 130 is a tournament record and the LPGA’s lowest 36-hole score this year.