Top 5: Greatest moments of sportsmanship in golf
Golf has so many obscure and harsh penalties that it is so easy to fall foul of breaking the rules.
Some are so harsh that many people would be forgiven for not owning up to inadvertently hitting a reed on their backswing or touching a leaf in the bunker.
But golf is well known as the gentleman’s game and the sportsmanship displayed by many of the game’s players should act as an example to other sports.
The following list of remarkable acts of sportsmanship will certainly make you think the twice next time you are guilty of an infringement.
5. A touch of class from Payne Stewart
The Ryder Cup in 1999, also referred to as the Battle of Brookline, was one of the most controversial in the tournament’s history.
The behaviour of the US team was criticised after they raucously invaded the 17th green after Justin Leonard had holed his putt despite Jose Maria Olazabal still having his putt to play.
The American fans also came under scrutiny after several incidents involving heckling, with Europe’s Colin Montgomerie receiving the worst abuse.
But Payne Stewart, who died less than a month after the tournament in a plane crash, did his best to protect Montgomerie from the abuse by asking security guards to remove certain offenders.
Once the U.S. clinched the Ryder Cup, Stewart made the ultimate gesture by conceding his singles match to Montgomerie.
It was an incredible act of sportsmanship and a fitting lasting memory to one of golf’s greatest players.
4. The concession at Royal Birkdale
In what was a heated Ryder Cup in Southport in 1969, Jack Nicklaus produced a touching moment of sportsmanship that would go down in golfing folklore.
Englishman Tony Jacklin was left with a two-foot putt to tie the match and a miss would have handed the cup to the USA.
But Nicklaus didn’t give him the chance as he conceded the putt, resulting in the first draw in Ryder Cup history.
“I didn’t think you were going to miss that putt, but I didn’t want to give you the opportunity,” the Golden Bear’s words to Jacklin on the final hole.
3. Refreshing honesty from one so young
Adam Van Houten, of Mount Gilead High School in Ohio, North America, had finished the 2005 State High School Golf Championship with a resounding seven-stroke lead.
But a moral dilemma presented itself when Van Houten noticed a mistake on his card.
A playing partner had scored him a 5 on one hole instead of a 6.
Van Houten could have been forgiven for keeping quiet – it’s a one-stroke error in a seven-shot victory.
But admirably he pointed out the mistake to officials and was disqualified because he’d already signed the card.
Van Houten did gain some consolation when he earned a place in Sports Illustrated’s sportsmanship of the decade list.
I now feel really guilty for kicking my ball out from behind that tree last week.
2. Davis gives up chance to secure maiden PGA win
Englishman Brian Davis was close to a first victory on the PGA Tour as he locked horns in play-off with American veteran Jim Furyk at the Verzion Heritage in 2010.
Davis’ approach shot on the first hole nestled in some reeds and his club grazed a stray reed on the backswing of his shot (a violation of the rule against moving loose impediments).
Davis immediately called over a rules official, who watched the TV replays and confirmed the movement, but only after watching in slow-motion.
It was an immediate two-stroke penalty and Davis conceded the victory to Furyk.
1. Barber gives up his dream after falling foul of harsh penalty
Promising youngster Blayne Barber had easily advanced out of the first stage of PGA Q-School in 2012.
But he couldn’t get an incident from the tournament’s second round out of his mind.
Barber believed that he had brushed a leaf in a bunker, even though his caddy said the leaf hadn’t moved, and immediately penalised himself one stroke.
After the round, a friend told him that the penalty for such an infraction was two shots rather than one.
Barber informed the PGA Tour that he had signed an incorrect scorecard and he was disqualified.
He missed out on qualification but “felt at peace about it”. He was rewarded for his honesty and integrity when he earned his PGA Tour card for the 2014-15 season.
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