SHANGHAI - England's Simon Dyson was sensationally disqualified from the BMW Masters before teeing off his third round in Shanghai on Saturday.
Dyson had been among six players tied for second place on four-under par after day two of the US$7 million event at Lake Malaren.
Several emails and tweets from television viewers resulted in European Tour Chief Referee, John Paramor, calling for video footage of Dyson tapping down what looked like a spike mark with his golf ball on the eighth green on Friday during his second round.
Dyson was lying close to the hole and after marking his ball, he then used it to reach forward and tap down something directly on his putting line.
Paramor said in a statement: "Simon Dyson has been disqualified from the BMW Masters presented by SRE Group under the rules of golf (6-6d).
"Simon was found to have breached rule 16-1a, which states that a player must not touch his line of putt.
"Television viewers alerted the European Tour to the incident, which took place on the eighth green during the second round.
"When the footage was reviewed Simon was seen to touch the line of his second putt after marking and lifting his ball on the green.
"He subsequently failed to add a two-shot penalty to his score when signing his card, and as a result has now been disqualified."
The six-time European Tour winner, who had carded two rounds of 70 on the first two days to stand at four-under par overnight, was informed of his disqualification on Saturday morning as he was preparing for his third round.
When asked by reporters for comment, Tour organisers said Dyson was too upset to talk about the incident.
Speaking to European Tour television Paramor added: "It's a very sad thing to have to do, but unfortunately his event is now over."
It now means Dyson, who arrived in China lying in 66th place on the Race to Dubai, will not earn any money this week.
He had not qualified for next week's WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai and will now have to stake his chances of qualifying for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai on the Turkish Airlines Open the following week.
Only the top 60 money earners on the European Tour's "Race to Dubai" standings gain automatic qualification for the $8 million tournament.
The DP World Tour Championship also carries a US$3.75 million bonus pool which will be divided among the top 10 after the event.
America's Luke Guthrie was leading the BMW Masters after two rounds of 65 and 71 left him at eight-under par, four clear of now five players tied at four-under in second place.