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Strange Stuff in China


It must have been that the Halloween vibe extended all the way to the Far East because there were odd goings-on at Mission Hills Golf Club in Haikou, China.

On Sunday, Lorena Ochoa - the retired Mexican superstar - beat victorious European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie by two shots in the pro-celebrity Star Trophy. Ochoa, who only a few days earlier hinted that she might play some tournaments on the LPGA Tour "just for fun," pocketed $1.28 million, a lot more than just fun money.

Montgomerie was headed for a playoff with Ochoa but was halted in his tracks after learning he was penalized two strokes when his caddie moved a sign on the 16th hole.

The incident occurred when Montgomerie's drive finished behind an advertising sign in the fairway, which blocked hissecond shot to the green. Montgomerie's caddie, Jason Hempleman, and a marshal pulled the sign out of the ground in breach of a local rule.

"Under the conditions of this competition, which are given to every player, the advertising signs (are) temporary immovable instructions," tournament director David Parkin said. "You can't move them. Unfortunately for Colin, his caddie has helped in the movement of this board. As soon as he moved that it's a two-stroke penalty under our conditions."

Monty, never one to hide his emotions, was not happy. When Parkin approached him on the 18th tee to inform Montgomerie of the problem, the Scot responded: "David, please don't start this."

"Nobody else has moved them," Parkin said.

Even stranger was the 26-stroke penalty inflicted on Japan's Ryuji Imada, which came after he had failed to read the lift-clean-and-place rules in place because of the rain-softened conditions on the Blackstone course before the first round.

Imada assumed that after picking up and cleaning the ball he could place it within a club length of its original position, as is standard on the PGA Tour. But the local rules stated that placement had to occur within the length of one scorecard, as is standard on the Asian and European tours, according to GolfChannel.com.

Playing partner Danny Lee pointed out the error to Imada on the 12th hole. At the end of the round, when Imada informed tournament officials that he'd broken the scoring rule, he said he couldn't remember how many times he had given himself the more generous placement, but guessed he'd done so 13 times. So the 36-year-old was assessed 13 two-stroke penalties. After tacking on a total of 26 penalty strokes, Imada posted a first-round score of 24-over-par 97.

Imada admitted he failed to read the local rules sheet, later commenting, "I'm an idiot."