Charles Howell III was disqualified prior to the start of Saturday's third round of the Wyndham Championship for violating Rule 4-1a, using a non-conforming driver, during the second round.
PGA Tour rules official Tony Wallin said he received a call from John Mutch, another Tour official, around 7:30 a.m. on Saturday. Mutch was alerted to the possible rules infraction by a U.S. Golf Association staff member, Wallin said.
Howell shared 10th place at 6 under after shooting a 68 in the second round.
"Apparently yesterday (Friday) prior to his teeing off, a little weight port cover on the bottom of his TaylorMade driver towards the toe, near the face, came off while he was hitting balls," Wallin explained. "What that little port cover coming off did was made the club non-conforming because there's a little hole under that cover that they use to put a hot wax weight in the club and without that cover on there, the club has a hole through it which you cannot have. You cannot have a hole that's uncovered into the club or going through the club. So that's what made the club non-conforming."
When Wallin informed Howell of the infraction before his 8:45 a.m. tee time, Howell said, "That kind of means I'm gone."
Indeed, it does. Had the driver weight port cover become dislodged during the round, Howell wouldn't have been penalized for continuing to use the club - as long as he had it repaired before his next round of play - but since it occurred before the round the club is deemed non-conforming.
Howell wasn't immediately available for comment, but Wallin's statement Saturday morning suggests that Howell had made inquiries to determine if the club could still be used.
"It was expressed to him that the little weight port weighed less than a gram and that it would not affect the playability of the club because that was his question that he was wondering, whether it would affect the playability," Wallin said. "He teed off with that club yesterday and played his round with it."