Later this week, Tiger Woods is going to be falling out of the the top #10 in the World Golf Rankings for the first time since 1997. That’s a 14 year run, impressive by any standards. But it wasn’t even a week ago that Tiger Woods withdrew from the TPC because of knee injuries. This caveman isn’t one for unwarranted allegations, but this seems a little suspect to me. He was already well over par only 9 holes in to the qualifying round.
Everyone uses excuses every now and again, but apparently probably not more frequently than following the US Open every year. Approximately 9000 people attempt to qualify for the US Open each year. Why? Because more than half of the 156 player field is open to those who make it through the sectional qualifiers. Michael Campbell, Lucas Glover and Steve Jones each went through these qualifiers in the years they won their Open titles.
What are the requirements for entry? Those who check the amateur box must have a validated USGA Handicap Index of 1.4 or less. Those who check the “Pro” box, however, are not asked to provide any background information at all. That means, if you lie about being pro, anyone can enter the Open. But that is where it gets dicey. Anyone who fails to break 80 (or 8 strokes of the USGA course rating) while following the official Rules of Golf during any of the local qualifiers receives and Audit letter. This letter requires you to provide evidence that you are capable to compete at the national level. Those who are unable to provide this evidence are BANNED from the US Open indefinitely, and cannot be removed until they provide solid examples of play in formal state, regional or local competitions. Injuries and had a bad round excuses just wont fly, but that doesn’t stop the excuse letters from pouring in.
Larry Adamson (former USGA director of championship entries) had the daunting task of dealing with these players. He did say, that every so often, however, there would be a few exceptions that he would remove. He recalled to Golf Digest one such incident:
In 1984, Larry took a call from a golf professional who had received the dreaded performance letter. The pro proceeded to tell Larry, “My son was caddying for me, and I was playing well. I finished the front side in 37. I had hit a good drive on the 10th, and my son and I were standing in the fairway, waiting, as play had slowed considerably. My son says he needs to tell me something important. I turn and start to listen when he announces, ‘Dad, I’m gay.’ Now, Mr. Adamson, I love my son, and I will not judge how he wishes to live his life. But right there my game just left, I shot a 52 on the back nine. Based on what I have just told you, I feel that I should be taken into consideration by you or whoever makes these kind of decisions.”
Larry thanked the gentleman and hung up the phone. What to do? It was a unique story, true or not. And the professional never said a negative word about his son or the lifestyle. Larry wasn’t about to call the son for verification, or anyone else for that matter. But playing the Open qualifier was the father’s once-a-year competitive experience. He had no performance record to speak of.
Larry returned to his office, reached for his pen and scratched the professional’s name off the banned-players list.
That professional entered future U.S. Open qualifiers chasing his dream. Though he never made it all the way to the final Open field, his qualifying scores were comfortable in the 70s. He belonged.
After that story, I am going to encourage all of you to chase your dreams, whatever they may be, but especially if they are entering the US Open, but if you choose to check the “pro” box, don’t attempt to use a false excuse in order to get off the banned-players list!
Do you know anyone who uses excuses too often, on or off the course? Do you think Larry Adamson made the right decision?