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  • Nov
    19

    Honesty in Sports? What a Novel Concept!

    Filed under: Sports; Tagged as: , ,

    In today’s day and age, we are so used to hearing about all of the illegal acts done to get an edge over the other team or opponent in sports. Bill Belichik of the New England Patriots illegally videotaping opponents’ players and coaches during games in order to gain an edge. 2006 Tour de France Winner Floyd Landis being stripped of his yellow jersey for doping infractions. Players in the NFL and MLB continually pushing the limits to gain a performance edge and testing positive for illegal drug violations. These are all so common place, we are almost numb to the fact when we hear about them.

    That’s why J.P. Hayes’ story from the weekend is such a pleasant surprise to all of us, despite its harsh ramifications for the former PGA Tour player. During the second stages of the 2009 PGA Tour qualifying tournaments, J.P. Hayes unknowingly used a “prototype” golf ball that hadn’t been approved by the PGA on 2 of his shots on the 12th hole of the 1st qualifying round. As he went to mark his golf ball on the green (he had used the ball on his tee shot and chip shot into the par 3 hole), he noticed that the golf ball was not the same model he started the round with. He notified an official of his rules violation, took a 2-stroke penalty because of the infraction, finished out the hole with the “wrong” ball (as required by PGA rules) and then resumed play with the original model golf ball. He finished both rounds of this 2nd qualifying stage in good shape to advance to the final qualifying stages in December. But after completing both rounds, he questioned whether or not the golf ball was even on the approved list. If it was not on the approved list, he would be disqualified altogether from the qualifying stages and he would not gain a card for the 2009 PGA Tour. No one would have known about the infraction, and as it turned out, the prototype golf ball was not on the PGA’s approved list, and Hayes’ honesty cost him the tour card.

    Hayes tried to convince the media and fans that every other player during the qualifying stages would have admitted the same rules infraction, but I’m not sure that is true. Hayes should be commended for his honesty and his respect for the game he loves. Hayes has won a PGA Tour event twice, the last win coming in 2002. In 2008, Hayes made only 7 cuts in 26 events and earned just over $300,000 – good for 176th on the money list. Because of his “poor” performance, he had to compete in the qualifying tournaments in order to keep his Tour Card for 2009. Over his PGA career, he was earned more than $7 million in winnings, and he will still be able to compete in approximately ten 2009 PGA Tour events because of his past PGA tour wins and sponsor exemptions. So it’s not like Hayes is going to go into the poor house because of his disqualification. That being said, Hayes still took the high road in a difficult situation. He didn’t give into greed or deception, and he paid the price for his honesty. We should all be proud of Hayes’ actions and we should all cheer Hayes on in the 2009 PGA tour events in which he participates.

    jp hayes.jpg

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