Tiger Woods was hit with a two-stroke penalty and joined World Number One Rory McIlroy in missing the halfway cut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
McIlroy recorded a second successive 75 to bow out of the event in which finished as runner-up last year.
It then emerged McIlroy's playing partner Woods was in trouble over an embedded-ball incident on the fifth.
The American thought he had dropped just a single shot - one of four bogeys in his first five holes - but was told on the 11th the matter was being investigated.
Woods appeared to have finished safely inside the cut mark on one over, but his bogey five was changed to a triple-bogey seven after discussions with European Tour Senior Referee Andy McFee.
At the time Woods had asked Martin Kaymer, the other member of the star group, to examine the lie in among the ice plants.
"I called Martin over to verify the ball was embedded. We both agreed, but evidently it was sand," he explained.
"It's tough. I didn't get off to a very good start and I fought hard. I battled back and got it to where I thought I could play the weekend, and thought I might have a chance, just post two low rounds. But I won’t be able to do that.”
Explaining the infringement of Rule 25/2, which came to light from spectators walking with the group, McFee said: “Tiger hit his tee shot on the fifth way out to the right and when he got over there to the ball, he called Martin Kaymer over and said, ‘look, I've got an embedded ball here’.
“So Martin came and had look at it, agreed the ball was embedded; Tiger proceeded under the embedded ball rule, dropped the ball and played on. No referee was involved in that situation. It was only later that a couple of spectators walking past the referee who had seen that asked, 'Why did Tiger get a drop there?'
“And the referee didn't know. Obviously no referee was involved but we suspected it might have been embedded ball. So we went and had a look at the area and thought, well, embedded ball rule just does not apply in that rule.
“The embedded ball rule is for a closely mown area, only. There's a note to that rule, which all the major tours in the world use, which extends embedded ball relief to through the green, but that is very specific in that it says, in ground other than sand.
“So wherever you are, you do not get a relief for a ball which is embedded in sand, and that's just a bad lie and you have to play it.”
McFee advised Woods of the possible penalty on the 11th, with the two strokes confirmed after a conversation in the recording area as he signed his card.
“Obviously we want people to deal with rules issues themselves, providing they get it right,” said McFee. “But unfortunately in this one, they didn't, and it incurred a two stroke penalty.”
As for McIlroy, who switched putters for the second round, he said: "I just felt the greens I have been practising on were much faster. It was just a weight issue.
"I've got four weeks to work on it. I knew it was going to be a tough week. I hit the ball really well in Dubai last week, but it just got worse for some reason.
"I'm very disappointed. You never want to get off to a poor start, but I've got to realise it's only the start of the season."
England's Justin Rose continued to enjoy himself in the desert sun, meanwhile.
The 32-year-old added a 69 to his opening 67 and on eight under par was one ahead of Welshman Jamie Donaldson, Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen.