Un­der­cover Tour Pro

Cheats are hard to catch, but we know who they are

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

‘There are maybe 20 guys who de­lib­er­ately fudge their mark within a half-inch.

I’ve played in only one Masters, and this year I watched from home. Half my life I spend at golf tour­na­ments, so usu­ally the last thing I want to do is tune in, but the lim­ited com­mer­cials and the beauty of that place get me.The world was ex­cited about all the stars on the Sun­day leader board – Serge, Rosey, Scotty, Rickie and Jor­dan – but I was pulling for Charley Hoff­man. He’s a friend, and I think it’s a more amaz­ing story when­ever a jour­ney­man wins.

Ear­lier in the week, I re­mem­ber nearly spit­ting out my drink when I read what Phil Mick­el­son said in his press con­fer­ence. His quote was, “I know a num­ber of guys on tour that are loose with how they mark the ball and have not been called on it. I mean, they’ll move the ball two, three inches in front of their mark, and this is an in­ten­tional way to get it out of any type of im­pres­sion and so forth, and I think that kind of stuff needs to stop.”

Now, if there’s any­one prone to hy­per­bole, it’s Phil.The truth is, there’s ex­actly one guy who is known to mis-mark his ball by two or three inches. Ask any player about cheat­ing, and they’ll all tell you the same name. I was paired with this no­to­ri­ous in­di­vid­ual re­cently, and I wit­nessed it. Us­ing his hand to ob­scure the dis­tance be­hind the ball, he picks up his coin so fast that you al­most can’t be cer­tain of what you’ve just seen. But when you see it enough times, it be­comes pretty ob­vi­ous. What’s more, this was just af­ter the an­chor ban, and he was us­ing a long put­ter. He wears baggy shirts, but I could tell that he was an­chor­ing. Af­ter the round, we got into a heated de­bate in the scor­ing trailer when I re­fused to sign his card. He claimed that if the end of his grip touched his chest, it was ac­ci­den­tal.The way the rule is writ­ten, it’s all about in­tent, and an of­fi­cial signed his card.

This dude knows he’s a cheat, and he knows that ev­ery­one knows he’s a cheat. No one wants to be paired with him or play prac­tice rounds with him. Of­ten you see him din­ing alone.

Back to what Phil said. I’d say there are maybe 20 guys who de­lib­er­ately fudge their mark within a half-inch. It’s hard to be defini­tive be­cause the guys who do it are very good at it. Be­sides, I’m busy read­ing my putt. Even if you’re pay­ing close at­ten­tion, it’s dif­fi­cult to call some­one out when the area of con­tention is the width of a small coin.You can tell an of­fi­cial to watch a guy, but only in the ma­jors do we have an of­fi­cial with every group.

We’re a gos­sipy bunch out here. But the re­al­ity is, play­ers of­ten aren’t os­tracised be­cause the sto­ries might cir­cu­late only within small groups of friends.

Just the other day, a buddy told me one from a re­cent weather de­lay.The horn sounds, and my buddy and an­other guy elect to fin­ish the hole.The third player, whose ball is in a gnarly divot hole in the fair­way, chooses to stop.The next morn­ing, when they re­sume the round, my buddy is wait­ing by the green and says to his cad­die, “No way this mother------ puts the ball back where it was.” Sure enough, the shot comes siz­zling into the green and spins back 10 feet – which is im­pos­si­ble from a divot.The guy goes on to fin­ish well that week­end and rakes in a bunch of money and FedEx Cup points that should have gone to some­one else.

Should my buddy have said some­thing, to pro­tect the field? Maybe, but noth­ing would have hap­pened. These guys know who they are. Karma will come around. – WITH MAX ADLER

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