Sergio Garcia has been disqualified in Saudi Arabia. AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili
Sergio Garcia has been disqualified in Saudi Arabia. AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili

Masters champion hacks apart greens

GOLF superstar Sergio Garcia has been disqualified from the Saudi International after damaging a number of greens during his third round.

The Spaniard cast a shadow over an already controversial event when he smashed up the putting surface on five holes on his way to carding a 71 on Saturday.

Garcia's actions drew complaints from the groups of players who followed the 39-year-old, leading to the reprimand.

European Tour officials enforced rule 1.2a which allowed them to banish the 2017 Masters champion from the field for the final day of competition for an act of misconduct.

In a statement, the one-time major winner said: "I respect the decision of my disqualification.

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

The episode is an unwanted distraction from events on the course in the European Tour's first visit to Saudi Arabia, whose human rights record has again been scrutinised.

A number of high-profile players including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose and Patrick Reed were paid an appearance fee just to participate in the event.

Such practice is banned by the PGA Tour but their European counterparts saw it as necessary to draw the best field possible.

China's Li Haotong and American Johnson are the co-leaders on 16-under heading into the fourth round on Sunday.

This article first appeared in The Sun and is republished with permission