Un­der­cover Tour Pro

The PGA Tour hits us with fines, and I’m fine with that

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - The Golf Life -

hey get us out here for ev­ery­thing. Swear­ing, slam­ming clubs, con­fronting spec­ta­tors, say­ing some­thing crit­i­cal about an­other player. How you spit. I un­der­stand why. We have fans and a big tele­vi­sion au­di­ence, spon­sors, and so it’s prob­a­bly a good thing we’re not scream­ing at of­fi­cials and kick­ing over port- a- pot­ties, walk­ing down fair­ways drop­ping F-bombs as far as sound will travel.

But let’s re­mind our­selves:

TWe’re play­ing a sport out­doors, and there’s emo­tion in­volved. When I tap in for a quad or do some­thing sim­i­larly in­fu­ri­at­ing, I can get pretty hot. Deep down, maybe just as hot as a player in the NFL, where they ne only for “ex­ces­sive pro­fan­ity.” Yes, I feel a strong urge to call my­self a name and look for a pinecone to smash. If I don’t nd one, I can re­strain my­self from go­ing af­ter a tee marker or a ground mi­cro­phone, though not all guys do. ( Eh, Ser­gio?)

When I was a teenager, my friends and I laughed and cussed at ev­ery other shot. In high school golf, I could let the en­tire course know when I made a dou­ble. I was a bit out of hand. Now that I’m that same kid grown up and pol­ished, my game’s a hun­dred times bet­ter, but I do won­der if I’ve lost a lit­tle of the com­pet­i­tive edge that comes with wear­ing that kind of in­ten­sity.

I’ve been ned only twice in my ca­reer, which isn’t bad con­sid­er­ing I’ve been out here almost a decade. I keep my curse words un­der my breath and save most of them for Thursday and Fri­day rounds when no one’s fol­low­ing our group. The rst time I got ned, it was for the word that rhymes with “hitch.” Ei­ther my ball or the cup was a son of one – I didn’t re­ally make it clear. I just re­mem­ber that I was near the lead on a Fri­day, and af­ter I missed about an 18-incher, I just lled my lungs and let it out.

The PGA Tour sent a let­ter to my house. I was be­ing ned $2 500 for “con­duct un­be­com­ing of a pro­fes­sional.” I think it was the next day that Andy Pazder, the chief of op­er­a­tions on the PGA Tour, called me on the phone. He wasn’t mad. He was very po­lite, busi­nesslike, and just ran through the pro­to­cols. If I wanted to make an ap­peal, I had two weeks to do so. Oth­er­wise, I was to send a cheque. All PGA Tour nes go to char­ity. Two grand or 20, it all hurts. Sure, we make a lot of money, but you never know when you might be back on the mini-tours.

My sec­ond ne was for be­ing short to a vol­un­teer. I had hit a drive into the rough, and the guy who planted the lit­tle yel­low ag by it felt com­pelled to in­ter­cept me be­fore I got there and say, “Oh, man, you’re not go­ing to like that lie.”

Now I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate vol­un­teers. These peo­ple sacri ce their hol­i­days to work for free, and our events couldn’t func­tion with­out them. They love the game, and they put in long hours just so they can get a lit­tle closer to us. But I’m one of the best play­ers in the world. I don’t need some 20-hand­i­cap ex­plain­ing what a ball nes­tled in kikuyu means for me. And I told him so in some colour­ful lan­guage.

Some of the guys out here think dis­ci­plinary nes should be made pub­lic, to en­sure there’s no pref­er­en­tial treat­ment. Me, I get why the tour keeps them se­cret – to pro­tect our im­age – and I’m cool with that. Though I told ev­ery­body I knew my story with the vol­un­teer, be­cause I hit the next shot to 12 feet and made the putt. – WITH MAX ADLER

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