Professional golfer Haotong Li's caddie cost him a top-three finish -- and the six-figure prize he was set to receive for his performance at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic -- by standing in the wrong place.
Li's caddie, Mike Burrow, broke a rule that went into effect Jan. 1 prohibiting caddies from standing on or near the extension of the line of play behind a player's ball.
Burrow committed the infraction on the green of the 18th hole during the tournament's final round of play -- making Li the first player to be penalized under the new code, according to Golf Week. Rule 10.2b(4) states that a caddie is not allowed to "deliberately stand on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the player's ball when the player begins taking a stance for the stroke and until the stroke is made."
Li, the winner of last year's tournament, sunk a three-foot putt on the final green, making what he thought was a birdie to finish in third-place with a one-under score of 71.
But Burrow's misstep cost him two strokes, landing him in 12th place with a score of 73.
Four players who tied for third place earned €135,774 (about $155,248) each, while Li made just €45,234 ($51,722) for his twelfth place finish, according to Golf News Net. The event is part of the European tour, which pays golfers according to a percentage and distribution schedule, with the first place winner earning 16.67% of the total purse.
Twitter users weighed in on the controversial call.
"This is so ridiculously marginal. The player should be given the benefit of the doubt. The rule changes are largely about the spirit of the game & player integrity not this pedanticness [sic]...." professional golfer Paul McGinley tweeted.
European Tour CEO Keith Pelley said in a statement Monday that while the call was accurate, according to the rules, the outcome wasn't fair to Li.
"Everyone I have spoken to about this believes, as I do, that there was no malice or intent from Li Haotong, nor did he gain any advantage from this, or his caddie's split-second actions," Pelley said. "Therefore the subsequent two shot penalty, which moved him from T3 in the tournament to T12, was grossly unfair in my opinion."