Jose Manuel Lara was disqualified from the BMW International Open after the Spaniard's flustered caddie attempted to hide having an extra club in his bag for the first round.
Realising on the second hole that Lara was using 15 clubs for Thursday's round at the Gut Larcenhof course in Pulheim, Argentine caddie Mathias Vinson tried to hide the extra club in some thick bushes.
Lara thought the bagman had taken a diversion for a "call of nature" but his playing partners, Damien McGrane and Peter Hedblom, became suspicious. Vinson then admitted to Lara that there had been 15 clubs in the bag.
John Paramor, chief referee of the European Tour, told Lara he was disqualified from the (euro) 2 million (US$2.5 million) tournament because a player is responsible for his caddie's actions. Vinson was banned from caddying "indefinitely," the tour said in a statement released Friday.
"The penalty of disqualification was imposed ... with Paramor and tournament director David Williams believing a serious attempt to circumvent the rules was made by the caddie," the statement said.
"Following an interview with Jose Manuel Lara, it was established that he had no prior knowledge of the 15th club in his bag, or the attempt to dispose of the 15th club."
Lara shot a 3-under 69 but was given a two-stroke penalty for each of the holes he played with 15 clubs, making his revised score a 73.
Paramor said McGrane and Hedblom had approached Vinson after he returned from the bushes.
"He was seen entering the bush with the bag of clubs by his playing partners, who thought it was a little bit suspicious," Paramor said. "They went and asked the chap, 'What are you doing?' and he sort of fumbled out an answer saying, 'I've got this wrong - I've done something bad. I wish it hadn't happened, etc, etc.'
"It was clear the club was out of the bag and in the bush at the time. He admitted it straightaway and regretted his action."
Vinson had been caught in a traffic jam on his way to the course in west Germany, jogging the final three kilometres of the journey to ensure he made it in time before Lara teed off. In his haste, he failed to notice Lara having 15 clubs in his bag.
Lara had arrived at the course from his Duesseldorf hotel with only around an hour before his tee-off.
"Hopefully we won't have too many more of those (incidents)," said Paramor, who was the tour referee at the time of a similar incident involving former Masters champion Ian Woosnam at the 2001 British Open.
On that occasion, the Welsh player was tied for the lead on the second hole of his fourth round at Royal Lytham when he was informed by his caddie, Miles Byrne, that a spare driver had been left in the bag.
Woosnam was given a two-shot penalty, costing him the chance of a first British Open title, a first prize of 225,000 pounds (US$350,000) and a potential place in Europe's Ryder Cup team.
Meanwhile, Martin Kaymer of Germany found himself in a quandary ahead of his second round at Gut Lacenhof after discovering his golf shoes had been stolen from a storage area.
"It's not the shoes I am concerned about, but the specially made inserts I had in the shoes," the former No 1, who shot a first-round 71, said Friday.
"I've managed to get another pair of shoes but will have to wait to get home tonight to fit another pair of inserts.
Should the NZ taxpayer financially assist pro golfer Lydia Ko?Related story: (See story)