It's all a matter of perspective.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

There is a difference between golf and other sports. The PGA is really the most noble and stately of all professional athletic organizations. I first noticed this while watching Professional Bull Riding and NASCAR on cable. All the commentators can talk about is how much money is going to be collected by the champion. As if the prize money is the only reason that people become involved in these endeavors.

The Masters is the most important and most prestigious tournament that a PGA touring pro can win. Ask anybody on the tour which tournament they could win if they were only going to win one in their career, they will all say Augusta National. Guess what, it is not the biggest payout on tour. Not by a long shot. The Players Championship has a larger purse and awards its champion with a longer exemption.

What Sammy Sosa claims happened to him this week is a situation that happens on the PGA about once a season. Every so often a player will be disqualified from a tournament for having too many clubs in his bag, having illegal equipment, etc. Usually it is an honest mistake. A player could have two sand wedges he was trying out on the practice green and his caddy forgets to take one of them out of the bag before starting the round. But there is a huge difference in the way it is handled.

In almost every occasion the golfer will call the penalty on himself. Yep, you read that right. Every year some guy will be on number 16 on Sunday with a chance to win and he will look down in his bag, see that extra sand wedge, call over a PGA official and disqualify himself. Voluntarily and instantly he will forfeit more prize money than I will make in a decade.

If Sammy is telling the truth and he was using his practice bat, then he probably recognized it at some point either in the on-deck circle, or in the batter’s box. When he realized it, he should have called for time and confessed to the umpire. But he did not. He tried to get away with it. For that reason, he deserves all of the embarrassment that comes his way.

No comments: