Woosnam penalized for too many clubs

Ian Woosnam nearly aced the opening hole Sunday in the British Open, only to discover an extra club in his bag that turned a tap-in birdie into a devastating bogey.

It was not immediately clear how the former Masters champion wound up with 15 clubs in his bag. Once he realized the mistake and was given a two-stroke penalty, Woosnam took a wood out of his bag and threw it across the tee in disgust.

The penalty was assessed by John Paramor, chief referee of the European tour. Players with more than 14 clubs in the bag are penalized two strokes per hole, with a maximum penalty of four strokes in the round.

"I think it was a fairway wood that Ian found in the bag on the second tee, but I don't know the circumstances of how it wasn't taken out before he teed off," Paramor said.

However it happened, it was disaster for the Welshman.

The birdie putt at the first from just six inches had put Woosnam in a tie for the lead with Niclas Fasth of Sweden, who birdied four of the first seven holes to reach 7-under par. Moments later, Woosnam was at 5 under and in a tie for sixth.

Hugh Campbell, chairman of the championship committee, said it may have happened because Woosnam was late arriving at the first tee.

"Ian got to the first tee only 30 seconds before he was due to start," Campbell said. "Some players like to leave it that late rather be hanging around there. But it meant there wasn't the usual conversation between the official and either the player or his caddie.

"Usually you ask them to check the number of clubs just in case an extra one has been put in there by somebody else by mistake, but most times they look at you as if you are a congenital idiot for asking.

"It obviously would have helped Ian on that occasion, though," Campbell said.

"Lytham is also the only course on the Open rota which starts with a par three and that probably did not help either because you are reaching for an iron rather than concentrating on the woods in your bag."

David Rickman, the Royal and Ancient Club's rules secretary, sympathized with Woosnam.

"It's such an obvious thing it seems ridiculous that it has happened," he said. "And for it to happen at the very moment he took the lead is such a terrible shame for him."