KAPALUA - It certainly wasn't the present he was hoping for.
Camilo Villegas, celebrating his 29th birthday, was disqualified early Friday morning from the PGA Tour's season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions following a rules violation that resulted in him signing an incorrect scorecard.
Villegas, who had originally posted a 1-under-par 72 on Thursday at the Kapalua Plantation Course, was chipping up the steep slope to the green on the par-5 15th hole during the opening round when his ball sat on the fringe before eventually rolling back down to him.
‘While it is obviously a disappointing way to start the season, the rules are the rules, and when something like this happens, it’s important to me that you’re respectful of the game and the people involved. Everyone involved with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions has been terrific this week, so I will work hard to earn my way back to the event next year.’
His next shot followed a similar path, rolling all the way back to his feet, and just before it settled next to him, Villegas casually swept aside some dirt and grass from a divot with his iron.
Unbeknownst to him, that violated rule 23-1, which states: "When a ball is in motion, a loose impediment that might influence the movement of the ball must not be removed."
He signed for a double bogey on the hole, when he should have recorded a nine after the mandatory two-stroke penalty.
According to www.pgatour.com, a television viewer noticed the possible violation.
Learning of the potential infringement on Thursday night, Slugger White, the tour's vice president of rules and competition, reviewed The Golf Channel's footage early Friday morning and said it was "obvious what happened."
"Unfortunately Camilo gets the swap under the scoring rule, but he signed for an incorrect scorecard for a score lower than he actually made," said White, adding he then informed Villegas, who also wanted to review the video. "He could not have been bigger he's sad it's one of those things. Obviously he wasn't trying to do anything. He just didn't know."
Villegas said in a statement it was clear he violated the rule.
"While it is obviously a disappointing way to start the season, the rules are the rules, and when something like this happens, it's important to me that you're respectful of the game and the people involved," he said. "Everyone involved with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions has been terrific this week, so I will work hard to earn my way back to the event next year."
Villegas is the second player who made the trip to Maui but will not finish the winners-only tournament. Two-time defending champion Geoff Ogilvy withdrew prior to the first round because of a cut that required stitches on his right index finger. On Thursday, Ogilvy was replaced with Plantation Course professional Scott Carroll, who played as a "marker" for Jim Furyk.
That, coupled with Villegas' disqualification, again altered the lineup for the second round on Friday. Instead of playing alone and teeing off at 10 a.m., Rocco Mediate - who shot the worst opening-round score with a 6-over 79 - replaced Villegas a half-hour later and played with Ernie Els.
"We talked to Rocco about it and he was very amenable and went up there 30 minutes later," White said.
Villegas was making his second appearance on the Valley Isle after finishing tied for 12th in 2009.
He and Ogilvy will each receive $53,500 for 33rd place.
* Matthew Carroll is at firstname.lastname@example.org.