Sunday, April 18, 2010

Davis Wins Admiration, Not Tournament

There are times when golf and its protectors can make the game more than it is, fawning over its basic reliance on honesty and self-policing.

It brings to mind the old line from the great Bobby Jones who, when asked about feeling good about calling a penalty on himself said, in effect, "You might as well praise a man for not robbing a bank."

Then you see Brian Davis call a two-stroke penalty on himself on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff with Jim Furyk in the Verizon Heritage, essentially killing his chance of winning his first PGA Tour event, and it reminds you that the rules mean something in golf.

Ever see a football coach call holding on his own team?

Ever see a basketball coach admit his guy traveled?

They like to claim they're protecting their teams when they try to bend the rules to their advantage. Golf, though, is different.

You can use the rules to your advantage and should. When Jim Furyk hit his approach shot into the same 18th hole hazard Davis did on Friday afternoon, he was able to mark where his ball crossed the hazard, take his relief and wind up on the green putting for par.

When Davis thought he ticked a loose reed on his backswing while playing his third shot from the hazard, he asked PGA Tour official Slugger White to check to be sure it had happened. White, standing a few feet away, hadn't seen the violation but when he asked his colleague Mike Shea to check the replay, Davis was right.

While a few people in skyboxes began to boo when the television announced the two-stroke penalty, they apparently weren't aware Davis had called the penalty on himself.

It cost him a chance to win the tournament but it won him a world of respect.

"To be there in the battle and have an opportunity to win the tournament and then call a penalty on yourself has got to be extremely disappointing," Furyk said. "I respect and admire what he did."

It's not the first time players have done something like Davis did. Players routinely call penalties on themselves, even when it has cost them tournaments.

"It will all come back to him in spades, tenfold," White, the PGA Tour offcial, said.

It should.


Minus3 said...

Please explain the rule. I know you can not improve your lie with your practice swing, i.e. knocking leaves or a branch off during practice swings, but I was unaware of a penalty that could occur during your actual swing.

Anonymous said...

It's because it was a Loose Impediment in a Hazard. It would basically be the same thing as moving sand on your backswing in a bunker. If the reed was still attached to the ground you could touch it on the backswing without penalty.