U.S. Open qualifier calls penalty on himself, five days later
You want a prime example of the "honor code" in professional golf? Check out what Jason Millard did Saturday, just five days before the start of the 2014 U.S. Open.
A week after shooting two rounds of 68 during the Memphis sectional, Millard reported a self-imposed penalty for grounding his club in a bunker on the 18th hole at the Colonial Country Club's North Course -- which results in a disqualification from playing at Pinehurst No. 2.
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"I'm pretty sure I grounded my club in the bunker," Millard was quoting as saying in an Associated Press brief. "I didn't see anything for sure, but I felt something and I saw a small indentation. It happened so fast, I really don't know 100 percent, but deep down, I believe I did. I couldn't find peace about it. For five days, I practiced and I couldn't get it off my mind. It's heart-breaking, but what I was feeling in my heart didn't feel right. It's the right decision and I am sticking with it."
"We commend Jason for bringing this matter to our attention," said Daniel B. Burton, USGA vice president and chairman of the championship committee. "At this time, we have no recourse but to disqualify him under the Rules of Golf and specifically Rule 34-1b."
Most of the reaction around the golf world was first one of shock, then respect and admiration.
American Jason Millard calls USGA to say he thinks he grounded club in bunker in #USOpen qualifier. Been bothering him all week. DQ. Classy.
— Paul Mahoney (@paulmahoneygolf) June 7, 2014
Wow. Jason Millard says he might have grounded his club in a bunker during Monday's US Open qualifier. Turns himself in to USGA. Gets DQd.
— Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) June 7, 2014
Jason Millard DQ'd from U.S. Open after violation at sectional qualifier. "I’m pretty sure I grounded my club in the bunker,” he said.
— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) June 7, 2014
Millard, who turned pro in 2011, was replaced in the field by Sam Love, the second alternate from the Memphis qualifier. Millard missed the cut in the Honda Classic in March, his only PGA Tour start of the season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.