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Jonathan Wall

GolfTube: Sizing up TV coverage from Abu Dhabi

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If Martin Kaymer's demolition of the Abu Dhabi field was the top story of the week, then Padraig Harrington's DQ was definitely 1A.

When Golf Channel came on the air on Friday, they still had Harrington's name affixed atop the leaderboard. It wasn't until 40 minutes into the broadcast that Renton Laidlaw announced that Harrington had been DQ'd.

"No Harrington after that overnight incident," Laidlaw said, noting that Harrington's name was suddenly missing from the leaderboard. It was a bizarre moment as Laidlaw, still in stunned disbelief, told viewers Harrington was gone, yet never mentioned why he was DQ'd.

The details are important, you know. Warren Humphreys eventually came to his rescue and described the situation.

While most of the crew was visibly frustrated, it was on-course commentator Jay Townsend who was the first to demand a change to the rule in the future.

"Well, he was picking up his coin and his finger just nudges the ball a little. Probably so little that he...well, I can promise you he didn't realize it," Townsend said. "If he did, he would have said, ‘listen, guys, my ball moved. I need to replace it and add a stroke.' It's an unfortunate thing - it was called in by a viewer.

"It was very insignificant, but any movement of the ball is a penalty. It's a situation, Warren, that needs to be looked it with television and everything. They've got to stop this disqualification thing and come up with some kind of penalty for the original breach, for having found out after the fact. It's happened two of the first three weeks this season, and it's unfortunate."

Warren Humprehys agreed with Townsend, also coming to Harrington's rescue claiming the Irishman wasn't the type of player to cheat.

"That penalty was really harsh," said Humprheys. "What we didn't see there was where he was looking when he was picking up the marker. He may not have realized the ball had moved. If you knowingly did it and didn't say anything, that's a problem. But that's not the case with Harrington. "

The Golf Channel finished off the DQ coverage by interviewing rules official Andy McFee to get his take on the situation. He gave viewers a very detailed reason for why Harrington had been DQ'd.

"There is no penalty for that under the rule, because if you are in the act of replacing the ball, provided the movements of the ball are directly attributable to the specific act of your hand moving the ball or coin, then there is no penalty. But the rule is specific that the ball must be replaced. ... He never replaced the ball. The fact that he was unaware that he didn't move the ball didn't help him."

The network then got a reaction from Harrington before moving to a camera shot of him hitting balls on the range.

Overall, the Golf Channel should be commended for their coverage of the incident. They added their own commentary, talked to the rules official in charge of the event, and got Harrington's opinion on the decision.

You couldn't have asked for better coverage. Job well done.

More follows.

More Paddy? More Paddy

Renton Laidlaw still wouldn't let go of Harrington's disqualification on Saturday, continuing the discussion after they showed shots of him hosting a rules and swing clinic at the event.

"Something really has to be done to the couch potato sleuths who call in after having spotted something on television. And most of them are things that can usually be seen in high definition or slow motion. It's a topic that's been much discussed this week, and will continue to be until something is done about it."

Martin's big change

Talk of Padraig Harrington's new swing changes dominated Thursday's opening round in Abu Dhabi. But Harrington wasn't the only one sporting a look - Martin Kaymer decided to make some tweaks as well over the winter break.

Golf Channel's Warren Humphreys brought Kaymer's changes to attention on the seventh hole, wondering aloud if the decision to bring a draw into his repertoire was a smart one.

"Now this will be interesting for Martin Kaymer with his new-look swing. He's trying to get it a little flatter into the ball to create the draw spin. It's the perfect flag for that type of shot. But does it suit his eye? He's been so used to swinging neutral and swinging right.

"It almost looked like he hooded the blade a little bit, just toed it in fractionally a bit to help him get that right-to-left spin. It's quite hard for a player who's always seen the ball one way in the air to suddenly change and start it going in another direction. It's a big move to make."

A big move indeed. As on-course commentator Paul Eales noted, it's a move that comes with a lot of risks for one of the game's top players.

"Unlike the changes that some players make from year to year, the change he's trying make is much more difficult. He's used to swinging one way for year, and now he wants to change. That can be fraught with danger. Hopefully that's not the case with him."

Given the week he had, I think the swing changes are coming along just fine.

Lauding Kaymer

Needing to fill up space during Sunday's final round - they can thank Kaymer for marking it a snooze-fest - the crew spent most of the morning praising Martin Kaymer's big changes during the winter offseason.

"He's got an ideal temperament, hasn't he, Warren?" said Renton Laidlaw, mentioning, for the third or fourth time during the week that Kaymer was a very even-keel player.

"I think he has a very good frame of mind at the moment. He had a fantastic season last year, came here this week and was voted by his peers as the players' player of the year, giving him an extra bit of confidence," said Warren Humphreys. "The fact that he's worked hard over the winter period on his fitness, and a little bit on his game, he's come ready to play. The work he put in is showing."

Notes:

The Golf Channel's Paul Abbott noted the biggest change to Padriag Harrington's overhauled golf swing is the missing waggle that used to be a staple of his pre-shot routine. ... The light-hearted moment of the tournament came when Renton Laidlaw commented that you have to be "an angry fellow" to be a marshal. He then backtracked and said tournaments couldn't be run without them. Uh-huh.

Quotes:

"You hate to make comparisons with [Kaymer], but he definitely has some Berhard Langer in him," Golf Channel's Jay Townsend.

"He doesn't look like your usual beefy Argentine," Golf Channel's Warren Humphreys commenting on Rafa Echenique's thin frame.

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