The R&A Chief Executive says the decision made by European Tour referees to penalise Haotong Li two strokes was correct

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Martin Slumbers: ‘Haotong Li Penalty Correct’

The Chief Executive of the R&A, golf’s governing body outside of the USA and Mexico, has responded to European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley’s comments, saying that Haotong Li’s Dubai Desert Classic penalty was correct.

Li was docked two strokes, dropping him from T3rd to T12th in Dubai, after his caddie was deemed to have stood behind him/lined him up over a putt on the 18th hole.

The ruling has caused widespread criticism, with number of Li’s European Tour peers reacting angrily on social media.

The Tour’s Chief Executive Keith Pelley released a statement, calling the ruling “grossly unfair” whilst admitting that the decision was correct.

Pelley also said, “It is my strong belief, however, that the fact there is no discretion available to our referees when implementing rulings such as this is wrong and should be addressed immediately.”

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said the ruling was correct and that there has been some misunderstanding of the new Rule.

“We have reviewed the Li Haotong ruling made by the European Tour referees and agree that it was correct.

“There has been some misunderstanding of the new Rule and I would point out that it is designed to prevent any opportunity for the caddie to stand behind the player as he begins to take his stance.

“Whether the player intends to be lined up is not the issue. We appreciate that it was a very unfortunate situation yesterday and I completely understand Keith Pelley’s concerns when a Rules incident occurs at such a key stage of a European Tour event but there is no discretionary element to the Rule precisely so that it is easier to understand and can be applied consistently.

“We are continuing to monitor the impact of the new Rules but I made it clear to Keith that our focus is very much on maintaining the integrity of the Rules for all golfers worldwide.”

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