Dyson's fate rests with 3-man Euro Tour panel
ANTALYA, Turkey – Simon Dyson, a no-show at this week's Turkish Airlines Open, is home in England, waiting to be judged next month by a three-man European Tour panel.
Dyson, who was disqualified from the recent BMW Masters in China after he fixed a spike mark without penalty, could be suspended for three months when the panel convenes during the first week of December, said Chubby Chandler, Dyson's agent.
Chandler advised Dyson, who is 68th on the European Tour's Race to Dubai list, to stay home this week and avoid the spotlight in Turkey. In doing so, however, Dyson will not gain enough points to crack the top 60 and qualify for next week's season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Dyson's only response has been in a statement: “I would like to say that I have never deliberately broken the rules, either on this occasion or in the past. It was simply an accidental mistake, which I have no reservations in apologizing for – particularly to my fellow professionals and to the Tour for any embarrassment caused.”
Chandler advised his client not to play in Turkey, the third event of the tour's four-tournament Final Series, and let the situation cool down.
“I took counsel from numerous people – Lee (Westwood), Darren (Clarke), Johan Rubert, George O'Grady, Thomas Bjorn – and in the end, I came to the conclusion that the best thing to do would be not to play,” Chandler said. “He would have loved to have come and played, but he understands that he's probably got to just stay out of the limelight.”
Craig Lee and Pablo Larrazabal, both of whom are playing in Turkey, were Dyson’s playing competitors in Shanghai. Curiously, European Tour officials have approached neither player during the event or since, clearly relying only on the videotape as evidence of a violation.
Lee and Larrazabal told Golfweek that they saw nothing untoward by Dyson in China.
“Actually I was his marker, and I never saw something,” Larrazabal said of the incident. “The day after, I was having breakfast with him, having a chat, didn't know anything about it until I arrived to the range.”
Dyson's troubles began on the eighth hole Oct. 25 at Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai, during the second round of the BMW Masters. Videotape appears to show that after marking his ball, Dyson reached forward and tapped down a spike mark in his line. After a viewer called the tour the next day to report the transgression, Dyson was disqualified for having signed for a lower score.
“Simon was found to have breached Rule 16-1a, which states that a player must not touch his line of putt,'' John Paramor, the European Tour's chief referee, said in a statement.
When Dyson didn’t assess himself the required two-stroke penalty and ultimately signed for a lower score, he was disqualified under Rule 6-6d ("Wrong Score for Hole").
After European Tour officials reviewed the tape, David Garland, the director of tour operations, called for a disciplinary hearing and said that a three-month suspension would be considered.
Bjorn, the chairman of the European Tour's players committee, is glad the rules were changed and players no longer are involved in judging a peer. In the past, a 15-man committee reviewed evidence and rendered a verdict. The three-man panel that will judge Dyson will consist of a lawyer, a former European Tour player and an administrator.
“I've said to all the players that whatever happens in that hearing, the decision that's made there is the final decision, and then we move on from there,” Bjorn said. “The players move on, we move on with Simon Dyson, and I said to Simon – I spoke to him last week – I said to him, I'll be the first one when everything is over to put my arm around you and then we move on, whatever the judgment will be. Once he appears on Tour again, we move on with golf.”
A source close to the Board of Directors told Golfweek earlier this week that this is not Dyson's first brush with the tour's rules police.
Dyson, 35, a six-time winner on the European Tour, was investigated for a rules infraction committed during the 2009 Portuguese Open. He was penalized two strokes under Rule 13-2 (“Improving Lie, Area of Intended Swing or Stance, or Line of Play”) after being deemed to have improved his stance after his ball ended up at the base of a bush. The 15-man tournament committee considered the breach serious enough to discuss it at a committee meeting. The committee consulted Paramor, the chief referee, but no further action was taken. Although the incident was caught on video, officials determined that the camera angle did not provide conclusive evidence that Dyson intentionally had sought to gain an advantage.
The source close to the board told Golfweek that some board members want Dyson to be suspended because it’s his second serious offense, and they think he got off too lightly four years ago. Phone messages left with several board members were not immediately returned.
For Dyson, golf likely will start in South Africa before his hearing in December. Chandler confirmed that Dyson will play in the Nov. 21-24 South African Open and the Nov. 28-Dec. 1 Alfred Dunhill Championship, the first two events on the 2014 European Tour schedule.
“I don't know whether that's right or wrong," Chandler said, "but he was definitely going to take my lead on it."
– Alistair Tait contributed