By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider
Charles Howell III was disqualified prior to the start of the third round of the Wyndham Championship -- he was tied for 10th place after 36 holes -- for violating Rule 4-1a, using a non-conforming driver, during the second round.
The driver in question was TaylorMade's new SLDR, which features a cap on the toe that houses the sliding weight.
Before he teed off on Friday, the cap on the driver came loose during his warmup session on the range. After confirming with TaylorMade officials that the driver's performance wouldn't be affected, Howell III proceeded to play the round without the cap on the toe.
According to the USGA, the opened cap area on the toe of the driver was deemed non-conforming because it provides a potential aerodynamic advantage.
TaylorMade said in a statement that it would make sure the weight cap issue didn't happen again in the future.
"TaylorMade has been making drivers with movable parts since 2004," said Dave Cordero, TaylorMade's Public Relations Manager. "What happened in the case of Charles Howell III’s driver is very rare and we will make the necessary adjustments to ensure this does not happen again. We are disappointed for Charles and have spoken to him."
The weight cap, which is situated on the toe of the driver next to where it says "Fade" on the sole, is removable and allows TaylorMade Tour reps to swap out the sliding weight — the standard sliding weight is 20 grams — if a player wants to go with a lighter or heavier version for swing weight purposes. Once the weight is adjusted, the cap is secured with glue.
Howell III, who was 26th in the FedExCup standings coming into the tournament, said in a statement following his disqualification that he planned to use the driver — with the weight cap in place — next week at The Barclays at Liberty National Golf Course.
"I put this driver in play two weeks ago and it is the best performing driver I've played," Howell III said. "The small toe-cap came off the driver head during my warm-up for the second round in Greensboro. Prior to teeing off, I spoke to the guys at TaylorMade about the toe-cap coming off to be sure that it wouldn't impact the performance of the club. I was assured it would not effect the club's performance. The idea that the club would no longer be conforming, because of the missing toe-cap, never entered my mind. This driver will be back in play next week."