August 17 2013
By PGATOUR.COM staff
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Charles Howell III was disqualified prior to the start of Saturday's third round of the Wyndham Championship for using a non-conforming driver during the second round.
Howell had shot a 68 on Friday to get into a tie for 10th at 6 under, five shots off Patrick Reed's lead. But PGA TOUR rules official Tony Wallin said he was alerted to a possible problem when he received a call from Tony Mutch, another TOUR official, around 7:30 a.m. on Saturday. Mutch, in turn, had received a call from the USGA suggesting someone talk with Howell.
The issue centered on a toe-cap on the bottom of Howell's TaylorMade driver that came off while he was hitting balls prior to the second round. Under that cover is a hole that is used to put a hot wax weight in the club -- so without the cover, the driver has a hole in it that would make it non-conforming.
"What that little port cover coming off did was made the club non-conforming," Wallin said. "... You cannot have a hole that's uncovered into the club or going through the club."
In a statement issued Saturday afternoon, Howell said he checked with TaylorMade to make sure the missing toe-cap wouldn't affect the club's performance. Howell started using the driver two weeks ago and calls it the "best performing driver I've played."
"The idea that the club would no longer be conforming, because of the missing toe-cap, never entered my mind," Howell said. "This driver will be back in play next week."
According to Wallin, had the toe-cap come off during the second round instead of before he teed off, Howell could have continued to play with the club -- as long as he had it repaired prior to the next round. Since the toe-cap was dislodged prior to the round, the only option was disqualification.