Just when Michael Hoey thought he could see light at the end of the tunnel, he ended up buried alive - disqualified for signing for a wrong score just hours after believing he’d shot one of the best rounds of his career.
On a day when Rory McIlroy avoided his tendency to throw in the towel and avoided the general carnage by carding a 75 that left him just two shots off the lead, Hoey’s first US major went from triumph to disaster.
The 33-year old from Belfast followed his opening 78 with a brilliant 70 - the second best round of the day and just one of five sub-par scores recorded - to triumphantly make the cut with two shots to spare on four over.
A few hours later he was disqualfied for signing for an incorrect score, having alerted officials to the fact that he had failed to recreate his lie after identifying his ball on the eighth, when it became deeply embedded in a sandy area.
“About 8.20 after dinner, I went straight up to the club after calling my coach and caddy to make sure I had things right,” Hoey said last night. “I was just re-living the hole as I’d sunk a really long putt for par. As soon as I realised what had happened, I went to the club.”
The PGA of America issued a statement:
“In an effort to identify the ball as his, he brushed away sand, as allowed under Rule 12-1a. However, Hoey failed to re-create his lie by replacing the sand on his ball, as required in the procedure of this Rule, thus incurring a two-stroke penalty for breach of Rule 12-1.
Unfortunately, Hoey failed to include this two-stroke penalty in his score for the ninth hole (sic), signed and returned the incorrect score card, for which the penalty is disqualification.
This ruling would be the same for a ball lying anywhere on the course covered by sand; including a sand dune, a sandy beach in a water hazard or a bunker.
Michael Hoey brought this to the attention of the PGA of America Rules Committee after the completion of play Friday evening.”
McIlroy was pleased with his round and the way he adjusted to winds gusting up to 30 mph.
“I said at the start of the week that I wanted to just give myself a chance going into Sunday and if I have a solid one tomorrow, I’ll hopefully be able to do that,” McIlroy said after finishing the day just two behind in fifth. “Who knows, anything can happen. Happy going into the weekend.”
Graeme McDowell is tied for 11th on level par after shooting 76 in the morning and while and felt the course could not have played much tougher, he’s right where he wants to be going into the weekend.
“It’s one of the toughest setups I think I’ve seen at a major championship in a long time,” McDowell said. “They didn’t put the tees very far forward. The pin on 14 and the pin on 17, I’m not sure how you get within 20 feet of those. It was just about setup.
“It was a tough setup on a calm day, and with a 30 mile an hour wind across this course, you’ve got a serious test of golf on your hands. 75 or below is a decent score out there, I really believe that. Vijay’s 69, that’s a serious score. That’s a serious score.”
As for his chances, he added: “Not meaning any disrespect to anyone out there, I need it to play tough this afternoon to keep me in touch. If I’m within four or five going into tomorrow, game on, I’m right where I need to be going into another weekend of a major championship.”
As it turned out the wind didn’t die down and he’s only four behind Singh, Tiger Woods and Carl Pettersson.
“I’ve just got to play a little better than I played today. I played lovely yesterday, putted well. Today I only played average and I putted very averagely.”
Darren Clarke relished the windy conditions and made the cut with a shot to spare on five over after adding a 76 to his opening 73.
He was cruising at two under following birdies at the fifth and sixth but bogeyed the ninth and double bogeyed the 10th to complicate matters before bogeys at the 14th, 16th and 18th left him sweating.
“I was loving it,” Clarke said. “I was two-under and cruising along, then hit a couple of poor ones, shortsided myself in the wrong place. Went for the TV up and down, a stupid silly flop shot that was a spin and made a mess of a few. All of a sudden it was, try and hang on…
“The golf course is designed for a little bit of wind and that’s what we’ve got. I don’t know what it will play like in that really strong wind. I think the forecast is maybe to get a bit stronger, so we shall see maybe over the weekend.”
Karl MacGinty of the Irish Independent, spoke to Hoey later on Friday evening and got the full story:
When he’d found his ball embedded, Hoey had wanted to call a rules official to confirm he wasn’t entitled to free relief.
However, the group was on the clock and one of his playing partners, Kevin Na, a Korean with a reputation for slow play, convinced Hoey to press on.
“At the time, I’d no idea that I was required cover the ball again,” he said. “All I needed to do was sprinkle a few grains back on top of it and that’d be fine.
“I really should have called for one of the rules guys but Kevin Na told me he knew I wasn’t entitled to relief and kind of rushed me a little bit,” Hoey explained.