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To say Collin Morikawa was frustrated to be hit with docked two shots ahead of the final round of the Hero World Challenge would be a huge understatement.

The two-time major winner was penalised after a rules infraction on the fourth hole of his third round at the Albany resort came to light.

The 2021 Open champion violated Model Local Rule G-11, which prohibits players from using green-reading materials other than their pre-approved yardage book.

According to chief referee Stephen Cox, the American’s caddie Jonathan Jakovac used a level on the practice putting green to calculate the slope of the surface.

That formula was then reportedly written into Morikawa’s yardage book and used on the fourth green, triggering the violation and two-shot penalty.

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Morikawa’s playing partner Matt Fitzpatrick brought the incident to the attention of Cox last night who, in turn, spoke to the American ahead of the final round.

Speaking to Todd Lewis of NBC immediately after completing the tournament, Morikawa said: “”To be honest, I was a little mad at Stephen.

“He told us to meet him in the locker room. I was waiting in there for about five minutes and he didn’t show up. This was midway through my warm-up.

“If you’re going to tell me some news, I think you should show up on time and give it to me.”

Talking to reporters after that, Morikawa – who took full ownership of the mistake – elaborated.

“J.J. got a text from Stephen Cox in the morning,” he added. “He didn’t let me know because he just didn’t want me to worry about anything. Then we started warming up and about 45 minutes left in my warmup, that’s when he got another text from Stephen to say meet in the locker room.

“We go there and we’re looking for him and he’s nowhere to be found and that’s just more frustrating on my part because, look, at the end of the day, like just be direct.

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“Like, we’re too much back and forth with everything in today’s golf world, right? Just be direct and tell me like am I playing, am I not playing? Just give it to me, right? Kind of going around the bush.

“Look, I get it, no one wants to hurt anyone’s feelings and it is what it is.”

He went on: “Stephen said apparently to J.J. this morning that it was a gray area in all this. Why are there gray areas? There shouldn’t be gray areas in the rules, right? That’s what rules are for.

“That’s why J.J. didn’t bring it up until we were about to go warm up. It’s like, well, if he doesn’t understand the rules and he has to go ask other people, then what’s the point of having these rules officials if they don’t know the rules? I don’t know. It’s frustrating to end the year like this.”

Former US Open champion Fitzpatrick, who brought the incident to the attention of the officials, explained how it all unfolded from his perspective.

“I was on the green, I heard Collin ask the question,” he said. “J.J. gave him an answer from his yardage book.

“I have wanted to use AimPoint earlier this year. I spoke to my putting coach, Phil Kenyon, about it. He told me that he was pretty certain I can’t write the numbers down or use the AimPoint numbers. So, you know, I didn’t do it.

“And then obviously yesterday it happened and I asked Coxy just to clarify what the situation was.

“I asked the question and he was like, well, now you’ve asked the question, I need you to tell me what’s going on. That was it.

“It’s nothing personal. Whether it was Tiger or whoever, it’s just I wanted to know because I would have used it earlier this year.”

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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