sport

Dyson set for uncertain return

Simon Dyson faces an uncertain reception when he returns from a suspended two-month European Tour ban at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.

One well-respected player says the issue is a "hot potato" and he would prefer not to be paired with Dyson in the 1.6million event.

"We just have to put the blinkers on and get on with it," the player, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

Dyson was joint second after 36 holes of the BMW Masters in October when he was disqualified for signing for an incorrect score in the second round.

The 36-year-old failed to add a two-shot penalty to his card after an incident on the eighth hole at Lake Malaren, when he touched the line of his putt after marking his ball, using the ball to flatten a spike mark.

Having reviewed the incident after being alerted to it by television viewers, European Tour officials charged Dyson with a serious breach of the Tour's code of behaviour, a charge which was upheld when the Yorkshireman appeared before a three-person disciplinary panel at Wentworth in December.

He was given a two-month ban from the European Tour, suspended for 18 months, but was cleared of "a premeditated act of cheating" in a somewhat contradictory verdict.

The panel, chaired by Ian Mill QC and made up of European Senior Tour player Gordon Brand Jnr and League Managers' Association chief executive Richard Bevan, found that Dyson deliberately pressed down the spike mark to improve his position, despite knowing it was against the rules.

According to the panel, the "extreme seriousness" of such an offence "in the appropriate case" would warrant an immediate suspension, but Dyson's previous good conduct and the fact that it was a "momentary aberration on his part, not a premeditated act of cheating", was taken into consideration.

However, it is understood that a number of players feel Dyson got off lightly when he was penalised two shots in the 2009 Portuguese Open after being deemed to have have improved his stance after his ball ended up at the base of a bush.

Dyson's only public comment on the incident came via a statement released on October 31 last year, which read: "I would like to say at this stage that I have never deliberately broken the rules either on this occasion or in the past.

"It was only after I was shown the replay of my action after marking the ball on the eighth green during the second round that I realised what I had done and that I was in breach. I immediately accepted that I should be disqualified.

"My action was in no way a deliberate act with the intention of breaking the rules. It was simply an accidental mistake which I have no reservations in apologising for and particularly to my fellow professionals and the Tour for any inconvenience and embarrassment unintentionally caused."

The incident occurred in the first of the inaugural Final Series events at the end of the 2013 season. Dyson did not play in either of the following two tournaments, thereby ending his chances of finishing in the top 60 on the Race to Dubai and qualifying for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

The former Walker Cup player returned to action at the start of the 2014 season in November, finishing joint 52nd in the South African Open and then joint third in the Alfred Dunhill Championship.