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Haotong Li puts rules controversy behind him, cards incredible four-eagle round that included a very rare feat at Saudi International

February 02, 2019
Saudi International - Day Three

(Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Haotong Li made headlines during last weekend's final round of the Omega Desert Classic after a controversial ruling, but on Saturday at the Saudi International, the talented 23-year-old earned attention for carding one of the most impressive rounds of 2019.

Li's third-round 62 was sparked by four eagles, but most impressively, Li made three of those eagles on par 4s. How rare is that? Consider that on the PGA Tour the past three-plus seasons (counting 2018-2019), only three times has a player made three eagles in one round—let alone on par 4s. The last of which, however, was Chez Reavie's incredible round with three hole-out eagles at the 2019 Sony Open.

Li holed out twice from short range during Saturday's third round, including an opening-hole chip-in, and then drove the green at the par-4 17th before holing a five-footer for eagle. For good measure, Li added a closing eagle at the 18th hole (a par 5) to secure the impressive accomplishment, which Li is a first in his golf career. Li's 8-under 62 also included a double bogey, adding to the remarkable nature of this round. Here are the highlights from the European Tour:

The Chinese golfer shares the 54-hole lead with Dustin Johnson at the Saudi International, as Li seeks his third European Tour victory. Li was defending his title last week at the Omega Desert Classic when he was handed a two-stroke penalty at the 18th hole after his caddie appeared to be standing behind Li as he lined up this birdie putt.

As part of the 2019 revisions to the Rules of Golf, a caddie is prohibited from standing behind a player as they’re preparing to hit a shot, and rules officials from the European Tour deemed Li and his caddie were in violation of the rule. It bumped him down from a T-3 finish to T-12, costing him about roughly €100,000.

We're sure Li and his caddie will be extra careful about that on Sunday, as the 22-year-old looks for vengeance from that controversial rules decision, which European Tour CEO Keith Pelley called "grossly unfair" afterward.