Luke Donald avoids disqualification

Updated: April 6, 2012, 11:25 AM ET
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Luke Donald avoided disqualification from the Masters on Thursday when it was determined his first-round score was improperly entered in the tournament's scoring system because a fax machine produced a smudged number.

Donald, the No. 1-ranked player in the world, shot 75 in the opening round at Augusta National, but tournament scoreboards had him for a 73 because his score was improperly read after it had been faxed to those recording the scores.

Had Donald really signed for a 73 when shooting a 75, he would have been disqualified. The error occurred at the par-4 fifth hole, where Donald three-putted for a bogey 5 and acknowledged as much after the round. But the score went down as a 3 in the scoring system because officials read it as a 3 -- not the 5 that Donald told them was written on the card.

Donald was not available for comment after the scorecard issue came to light. Augusta National officials described it as an "administrative error.''

His wife, Diane, tweeted: "Just got off the phone with Luke. NOT disqualified. Thanks goodness.''

One of the pre-tournament favorites, Donald, 34, struggled to a front-nine 38 and then managed just one birdie on the back nine. He trails leader Lee Westwood by 8 strokes.

"This place ... you know if you are a little off, it can eat you up,'' said Donald, who won the Transitions Championship three weeks ago, before the scorecard problem came to light. "My preparation has been as good as it's ever been. I almost wanted to start on the weekend because I was hitting it so nicely. Maybe I peaked a couple of days early. Hopefully, I will find something on the range and go low tomorrow.''

Donald won four times around the world in 2011 and won the money titles on both the PGA Tour and European Tour.

Augusta National was involved in perhaps the game's most famous scorecard mishap. Following the 1968 Masters, Argentina's Roberto De Vicenzo was made to take a 4 on the 17th hole during the final round. He actually had made a birdie 3 at the hole, which would have qualified him for a playoff the next day with Bob Goalby.

But because De Vicenzo had signed for a higher score -- the 4 was mistakenly marked on his card by player Tommy Aaron -- he was required to take it. That meant missing a playoff by a stroke. If you sign for a score lower than you shot, the penalty is disqualification.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

ALSO SEE