PGA Tour does about-face on pro-am policy, changes 'Furyk rule' penalty

Jim Furyk
Photo: Getty Images
The rule that led to the disqualification of Jim Furyk at The Barclays will be changed for the remainder of the 2010 season.
By
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Series:

Published: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 | 9:40 a.m.

Retief Goosen knows what a lousy feeling it is to oversleep and miss a pro-am time on the PGA Tour.

The reigning U.S. Open champion recalls hustling to Riviera, arriving when his group was on the first green. Because of a then-new tour regulation, Goosen was ineligible for the 2005 Nissan Open. It was a blow to the sponsors because Goosen was among only three players from the top 10 in the world that week.

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem heard the outcry and said officials would take another look at the rule, although he didn’t expect a change. “The rule was put into effect, and it accomplished its mission. And you can’t argue with that,” Finchem said.

Jim Furyk did the same thing last week at The Barclays. The reaction was entirely different.

Less than a week after Furyk, the No. 3 seed in the FedExCup, overslept and missed his pro-am time, Finchem announced he was suspending the regulation that led to Furyk being unable to play.

For the rest of the year, any player missing his pro-am starting time will be subject to punishment under “conduct unbecoming a professional.” What that means is unclear, for the tour does not discuss disciplinary action. The player will be required to finish the pro-am round and may be required to do additional sponsor activities.

Anyone who misses his pro-am entirely is out of the tournament, unless he was excused.

“Certain players have a higher stature than other players,” Goosen said Tuesday at the TPC Boston. “Some players make a noise and nobody listens, and other players make a noise and everyone listens.”

Goosen thought it was unfair for Furyk to miss the tournament, just as he did at Riviera more than five years ago.

Nick Price went to bat for Goosen back then, suggesting that every player get one absence during the year. That’s what Goosen would like to see now.

“You should have at least one chance a year that something like this happens. At least you’re not disqualified,” he said. “Furyk being up there in the FedExCup, there was great sadness he wasn’t there. It was a great golf course for him. I’m sure he would have been up at the top with the leaders.”

Most peculiar about last week? Furyk wasn’t nearly as outraged as some of his colleagues. He blamed no one but himself when the charge on his cell phone -- which he uses for an alarm clock -- became disconnected and his phone went dead.

It was only the second time he had overslept for a pro-am in his 17-year career. The tour did not adopt the pro-am regulation in 2004 because of players such as Furyk.

Phil Mickelson was among the most outspoken last week, noting that the rule only applies to those players -- 54 out of 122 at The Barclays -- who were in the pro-am. “I have no idea how the commissioner let this rule go through. It’s ridiculous,” he said.

Pat Perez said the tour suspending the regulation was “long overdue,” and not many would disagree. In the case of Furyk and Goosen, both made a spirited attempt to get to the golf course. Furyk didn’t even take time to put on a belt or tie his shoes.

In a statement provided by the tour, Furyk said he was glad the PGA Tour has changed the rule, pleased that Finchem and his staff reacted swiftly.

As for conduct unbecoming? That suggests a fine would be in order, and that left Goosen skeptical.

“Certain players with so much money, they’ll pay $5,000 10 times a year not to play in the pro-am,” he said. “At the end of the day, you should get one relief a year for accidentally missing a tee time.”

Finchem has asked the Player Advisory Council and board to evaluate the rules to be discussed at the November board meeting.

The question is why the tour chose to suspend the regulation after Furyk was eliminated from the tournament, yet did not see a need to do anything after Goosen was suspended.

Furyk’s case brought more attention to the regulation because of his No. 3 ranking and the start of the playoffs, where every tournament helps a player get in position for the $10 million prize. A player has been knocked out of a tournament seven times for missing his pro-am, but this is the first time in happened in the playoffs.

As for Goosen?

Since missing his pro-am time at Riviera, he has requested afternoon pro-am times at every tournament.


Comments

rgrowley

I agree with Mr. Gillies and Mr. Hancock that $10 million in the Playoffs standings is too important for golfers to quietly accept Finchem's slack performance.
Where would Finchem be today without the professionals.
To Jim Furyk's credit he accepted responsibility, and as a good sportsman he didn't loudly complain.
Finchem is an arsekisser and thinks his behavior is a model to his cronies, but in actualality he took away a man's paycheck for a little tardiness.

lch30

Sounds to me like a 3rd grade student being sent to the Principals office.

Finchen and the PGA have reached their collective Peter Principles.

wjgillies

This doesn't do crap for Jim, finchem should have made this decission when this happened. If he thinks, this pr stunt, changes anything, he's wrong.