MILL SPRING, N.C. – Maybe Jerry Rice should have stuck to football.
The Hall of Fame receiver was disqualified from the Nationwide Tour event Friday because his caddie used a range-finding scope to check yardages. The disqualification came a day after Rice shot a 92, the highest round ever since the BMW Charity Pro-Am began in 1992.
“A rookie mistake that I made,” Rice said with a smile. “So I got DQed.”
Rice announced after a second-round 82 that he’s done competing on golf’s Triple-A circuit.
“Because I can’t commit to golf the way I want to, this is probably my last Nationwide Tour” event, Rice said. “These guys, they’re working their butts off and they deserve to be out here.”
The error by his caddie means that Rice won’t take part in Saturday’s third round, the last before the celebrity event cuts the field for Sunday’s finale.
Rice was in violation of Rule 14.3, which prevents competitors from using a yardage measuring device. His caddie checked the yardage scope several times during the round at The Carolina Country Club.
Rice was told in the scorer’s tent after improving to an 82 at Bright’s Creek Golf Club. The BMW Charity Pro-Am is played over three courses in North and South Carolina.
“It’s OK,” he said. “I had a great time meeting friends and seeing fans.”
Rice made his tour debut last month at the Fresh Express Classic, going 83-76 to miss the cut. Rice had hoped to make major strides at the BMW and vowed earlier this week to buy Cristal for the house if he made it to Sunday.
That ended dramatically in the first round, when he played the first nine holds in 13 over. He took a 10 on the par-4 second hole.
There were no such blowups on Friday. He had just one double bogey at Bright’s Creek compared with six holes of double bogey or worse on Thursday.
His worst mistake of the second round came on his 16th hole, the seventh, when he needed two swings to get out of a greenside bunker. Other than that, Rice kept his drives straight and his approach shots mostly on target.
“It was a little bit better than yesterday but I’m learning a lot,” Rice said. “I made mistakes yesterday and I tried to come back and redeem myself a little bit.”
Rice was gracious and jovial with his partners and the fans, some who had his famous No. 80 San Francisco jersey for him to sign.
Rice, who’ll be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer, looked like he could still wear out cornerbacks and safeties with his precise routes.
One time on the 618-yard 17th hole, Rice was walking to his ball way to the right of the fairway when his pro partner Clint Jensen cautioned the football star to be careful not to slip crossing a small creek.
“You don’t think I can make that?” Rice said with a sly grin. He cleared it with ease.
It’s pro golf that’s not so easy for Rice. He said he saw how hard the players work at their profession, something he did for 20 seasons to become one of football’s greats.
“If I can’t fully commit to it, even though I really enjoy it,” he’s not going to enter, Rice said. “There are some good golfers that really need to get on this course.”
Rice wouldn’t rule out returning to the BMW Charity Pro-Am as a celebrity competitor, like baseball Hall of Famer Jim Rice, Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers and actor Kurt Russell – all who took part this week.
Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey, the former “Big Break” champion who shot a 64 Friday, says competitors like Rice bring attention and prestige to the Nationwide Tour. “Plus he looks like he could still lace them up” for football, Gainey said.
Right now, Rice thinks his golf future is purely recreational. He’s glad for the chance to try and the inside-the-ropes perspective he received from other pros.
“Like I said, this was not a publicity stunt,” Rice said. “I came out here, I played hard and I tried my best.”