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Saturday, March 6, 2004
Players realize mistake on green

SportsTicker

MIAMI -- Peter Lonard and Dean Wilson suffered two-stroke penalties Saturday for hitting each other's ball during the third round of the Ford Championship at Doral.

In a bizarre mix-up, Wilson hit Lonard's ball for his second shot at the par-4 16th hole, and Lonard subsequently hit Wilson's.

"I had a great round going and through being a bonehead I stuffed it up," said Lonard, who was in contention before finishing the day six shots behind leader Craig Parry at Doral's famed Blue Monster.

It wasn't until Lonard and Wilson got to the green and marked their balls that Wilson noticed the mistake. While it was somewhat indefensible, there were extenuating circumstances.

Both players use Callaway balls, and though they mark them differently, neither checked the markings before hitting his second shot.

That's because Lonard had been been outdriving Wilson all day. The 16th is a semi-blind drive and they could not see their balls land, so Wilson simply went to the shorter of the two balls, which were some 30 yards apart, and did not think to make sure it was his.

Under PGA Tour rules, the players had to return to the site where their original drives stopped, take two-stroke penalties and hit their fourth shots. Both hit great approaches and putted for bogeys.

The mix-up was more costly for Lonard, who was within striking distance of the lead.

"I'm walking up there, thinking I can go to 9 under, and the next thing, I'm struggling to stay at 7 under," said the Australian, who shot 66. "That really took the wind out of my sails. I don't think I've ever been stupid enough to do that before, but there's a first time for everything."

Wilson, who already was way out of contention and ended the day at even-par 216, was very apologetic.

"It's mostly my fault, playing first," he said. "I was sick for Pete. He had such a great round going. It matters to me a little bit, but it matters more to Pete." If Lonard was upset, he hid it well.

"That's life," he said. "I don't think it'll be the worst thing that ever happens to me."