ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – This week in the Middle East, Simon Dyson marks a new beginning in professional golf. At the $2.7 million HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, Dyson makes his first start since being put on probation by the European Tour after he tapped down a spike mark last year.
Dyson, 36, of England, has a suspended two-month ban hanging over his head after a European Tour disciplinary panel found his “action in touching the line of his putt was a deliberate one, that (the) act was committed by him in the knowledge of the Rule forbidding such an act; and his purpose in so acting was to improve his position on the green by pressing down a spike mark” during the second round of the 2013 BMW Masters in Shanghai. However, the panel cleared him of “a premeditated act of cheating” in his violation of Rule 16-1a (“Touching Line of Putt”).
Because Dyson already had signed his scorecard, the tour disqualified him because of an incorrect score (Rule 6-6d: “Wrong Score for Hole”).
In December last year, Dyson was fined £30,000 (about $49,300) and had to pay £7,500 (about $12,300) toward the European Tour’s court costs. If he does not commit a breach of the rules during the next 18 months, the threat of suspension would be lifted.
Dyson had the right to appeal the verdict but declined. He’s now just looking forward to getting on with the rest of his life.
“It’s made me realize how much I do love the game,” Dyson said. “It’s just nice to be back and playing and be amongst everyone again.
“Everyone’s just getting on with it. What’s in the past is in the past, and I can’t do anything about it. That’s the way I’ve looked at it since the day of the hearing, really. As soon as it was over, it was over. Me and wife back home haven’t spoken about it. Just get on with it and looking forward to starting afresh now.”
The disciplinary panel called Dyson’s action an “aberration,” and Dyson maintains that’s just what it was.
“There was never intent whatsoever there,” he said. “I’ve never done it in the past, and I’ll never do it in the future. There was no intent whatsoever to try to get an advantage. I’m just going to be very careful from now on, make sure I’m on the ball and be very professional about everything I do. And hopefully get back to where I was a couple of years ago.
“Nobody has said anything. Everyone has been coming up and talking to me. Nobody has mentioned it. Like I said before, it’s gone now and there isn’t anything anybody can say or do that will change what happened. I wish I could, but nobody can. So I just have to get on with it and carry on.”
Luke Donald was a teammate of Dyson’s in the 1999 Walker Cup at Nairn, Scotland, and remains a close friend. Donald said it’s time for Dyson to learn and move on.
“I spoke to him yesterday, but it was more just pleasantries,” Donald said. “I haven’t talked to him about the incident. Just the body language I got from him, he probably has some remorse and feels bad about what happened. Hopefully he’s learned from that and he can carry on.”