Padraig Harrington, one stroke off the lead overnight, was disqualified from his first event of the year yesterday without hitting another shot.
On a day which ended with defending champion Martin Kaymer three clear at 12 under par, Harrington became the latest victim of trial by television in the sport for an incident during his opening 65 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
It was spotted by an eagle-eyed viewer that his ball moved a fraction of an inch as he replaced it in front of his marker on the seventh green. Because he had signed his scorecard before adding a two-stroke penalty the punishment was disqualification.
The Dubliner said: "I was aware I hit the ball (with the back of a finger) picking up my coin. I looked down and was pretty sure it had just oscillated and had not moved, so I continued on.
"In slow motion it's pretty clear the ball has moved three dimples forward and it's come back maybe a dimple and a half.
"At the end of the day that's good enough, but I wouldn't have done anything differently yesterday.
"If I'd called a referee over it would have been pointless because if he'd asked me where my ball was I'd have said it was there. As far as I was concerned it didn't move."
It is the second time in his career Harrington has been disqualified from a tournament he had a good chance of winning.
In 2000 he was five ahead with a round to go at the Belfry, but it was then discovered that he had not signed his first day scorecard.
Tour senior referee Andy McFee said of Thursday's incident: "It's a minute movement, but it's a movement and he never replaced it, so he should have included a two-stroke penalty.
"The fact that he is unaware he moved the ball unfortunately does not help him. Because he signed for a score lower than actually taken the penalty is disqualification."
Despite wind and rain Kaymer took over at the top from South African Charl Schwartzel by adding a superb 65 to his opening 67 – and now looks poised to replace Tiger Woods as world No 2. He needs only a top seven finish for that.
A 74 from Sheffield's Danny Willett dropped him out of contention while Harrogate's John Parry is two shots further back.
Hull's Richard Finch was just inside the cut line on level par - alongside world No 1 Lee Westwood - with two holes to play when darkness stopped play.
Malton's Simon Dyson missed the cut after a 73.