It's been some year for rules infringements and Billy Mayfair may have topped the lot following his DQ on the PGA Tour Champions
The Champions Tour’s Invesco QQQ Championship saw Colin Montgomerie’s return to the winner’s circle. Now another story has emerged which involves the player at the opposite end of the leaderboard. Billy Mayfair’s name has the letters ‘DQ’ next to it and Golf.com’s Michael Bamberger has broken down the bizarre sequence of events that involved two rule breaks that led to the 53-year-old’s disqualification. Given the highly detailed nature of Bamberger’s account it’s best to offer a timeline of what was reported to have taken place. Here are the facts as we currently understand them…
1. At 1-under for the day, he loses his ball at 11. When found, he asks whether he is entitled to embedded ball relief, but is turned down. He makes a seven.
Mayfair says there was no discussion of how long the search had taken: “I had told [my caddie] Jeff [Johnson] to keep an eye on his watch. We knew it was getting close to the three minutes.”
2. At the par-3 17th, his ball moves “at least six inches” in the greenside rough.
“My ball was right here,” Mayfair says, using his club as a pointer. “I got over it. I did not touch it, I did not get near it. I had the club up by it, but it was not in the ground.”
Rules official Dean Ryan says he is good.
Former tour player turned broadcaster Phil Blackmar says: “That club was definitely down in the grass.”
Fellow commentator Lanny Wadkins later adds: “It’s disturbing. We’re like, ‘Whoa, wait a minute. That’s not what happened.’ We hate seeing that. It puts us in a bad position.”
Mayfair chips on and makes a four.
3. After the round Mayfair tells Brian Claar, the Champions Tour head rules official, he took three minutes, the allowed time, to find his ball at 11.
Claar then invites Mayfair to watch the footage from 17. Mayfair acknowledges he caused the ball to move. By not moving the ball back it is a two-shot penalty and he signs for a 76.
4. Claar gets a call from the scorer for the Mayfair-Jimenez pairing, who is “adamant it took Billy well over three minutes to find the ball”.
Claar digs out the feed, which wasn’t broadcast, and calculates the search took almost five minutes: “I told Billy it took him between 4:50 and 4:55 to find the ball. He said, ‘Well, we have a five-minute search.’ I said, ‘No, the rules have changed this year. It’s three minutes.’ He said, ‘I didn’t realise that.’ I explained that the ball he played is deemed lost. He played the wrong ball.”
That means he would have been disqualified at 11, so whatever went on to happen six holes later was irrelevant as he was already out of the tournament.
5. In a subsequent interview Mayfair says: “What I always got from [USGA rules aficionado] PJ Boatwright was the rules officials were always there to help the players, they were there not to call penalties on you, not just to try to get you disqualified. I wish this could have been handled more on an on-the-level basis. It could have been handled better.”
When asked who by he adds: “The rules officials. They see me searching for the ball. They know how long I’m looking for it. They have a stopwatch and I don’t.”
6. Mayfair, who also claims he “absolutely” knew the three-minute ball search was now in place despite saying otherwise to Claar, is then asked by Bamberger whether he had ever called penalties on himself: “I’ll give you a perfect example. I called that two-shot penalty on myself at 17. Once I saw that the ball had moved, I said it moved.
“I wanted to play, but obviously if I broke the rules, I had to disqualify myself.”
Watch this space. This one could run and run.