The PGA Tour has suspended the regulation that resulted in Jim Furyk’s disqualification last week from The Barclays for being late to his pro-am starting time, commissioner Tim Finchem announced Tuesday.
The rule will be suspended for the rest of the season. If a player is late for his pro-am time the remainder of the year, the situation will be handled as a matter of unbecoming conduct, the Tour said in a release.
The player would be required to play the remainder of the pro-am round and might be required to perform additional sponsor activity. A player who misses his pro-am obligation completely still will be ruled ineligible for the tournament unless he has been excused in accordance with regulations.
Finchem has asked the Player Advisory Council and player-directors on the Tour Policy Board to evaluate the current pro-am regulations and determine whether alternative measures can effectively ensure players honor pro-am obligations without placing them at risk of disqualification. The matter will be discussed at the Policy Board meeting in November.
Furyk was DQ’d from the first event of the Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs after he missed his Wednesday pro-am time. Then third in the race for the season-ending $10 million bonus, Furyk was scheduled to tee off at 7:30 a.m. but didn’t get to Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J., until 7:35.
He said he overslept because the battery on his cell phone, which he uses as an alarm clock, died overnight.
“I woke up at 7:23 and tore out of there, put a pair of pants on and a shirt,” Furyk said later that day.
In a statement released Tuesday, Furyk said: “I am glad the PGA Tour has changed the rule surrounding my disqualification from last week’s Barclays Championship. Pro-ams are an integral part of our success out here on the PGA Tour, but I’m extremely pleased that Commissioner Finchem and the Tour staff has reacted swiftly and modified the rule.”
The day it happened, four-time major winner Phil Mickelson appeared to be more furious than Furyk.
“The rule itself applies to only half the field,” said Mickelson, noting that only 54 of the 122 players were in the pro-am. “So if you’re going to have a rule that does not apply to everybody, you cannot have it affect the competition. . . I cannot disagree with it more. I have no idea how the commissioner let this rule go through. It’s ridiculous.”
Mickelson said he told Finchem how he felt at lunch that day.
The Tour adopted its policy on pro-ams in 2004 after some players began skipping the Wednesday events for suspect reasons. Now, players automatically are disqualified from the tournament if they miss the pro-am except for injury or family emergency.
Retief Goosen was disqualified from the Nissan Open in 2005, the year the rule took effect, when he overslept and missed his pro-am. Tuesday at TPC Boston, site of this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, he disputed the notion that players do not care about pro-ams.
“The pro-am is such a big part of the tournament. It’s the most important day of the week, and we think it is.’’
Goosen has supported the contention that players should be given “one bye a year’’ from pro-am assignments, so that if something like what happened to him and Furyk took place, it would be overlooked. The second offense would be punishable by DQ.
“They should have (changed the rule) a long time ago,’’ Pat Perez said. “It’s not what the intent was. They should have changed it when it happened to him (pointing to Goosen, on the way to the putting green). But they tried to prove a point, only it’s ridiculous when you show up a little late for a pro-am and get disqualified. If you blow it off, sure, but to be be late and get DQ’d? Ridiculous.’’
Asked if those pro-am guys at The Barclays would have appreciated playing 15 or 16 holes with Furyk after he arrived, Perez said: “Hell, they’d have wanted to play even nine holes with Jim Furyk.’’
Furyk said this was the second time in his career that he had overslept and missed a pro-am time. The other occasion was years ago at Bay Hill, when an alternate filled in for two holes until he arrived. That possibility no longer exists under the new policy.
Although he said he was upset about not playing Ridgewood or the tournament, Furyk said the worst part of his disqualification was “to possibly, severely hurt a good year.”
Five years later, the rule finally appears to be headed for change. Why so long?
“Some players make a noise and nobody listens,’’ Goosen said, “and other players make a noise and everyone listens.’’
– Jim McCabe and The Associated Press contributed