Michelson DQ'd at Florida sectional; incorrect scorecard
VERO BEACH, Fla. – Landon Michelson and his caddie Chris Ingham were the first people to show up at the Quail Valley Golf Club for Monday's U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier.
Thing was, they didn't have a tee time. Only hopes and dreams that one of the scheduled 55 players would not show up for their tee time.
They were in luck – Freddie Jacobson decided to forgo his spot and attempt to move into the top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking at the PGA Tour's stop in Memphis instead.
Michelson had a tee time at 7:55 a.m. alongside Craig Hicks and Nicolas Cavero.
PHOTOS: U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying (Vero Beach, Fla.)
Check out images from Quail Valley during the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier in Vero Beach, Fla.
The Rice University product took advantage, firing rounds of 71-71 to potentially get into a tie for the fourth and final qualifying spot.
Thing was, Michelson signed for a 70 in his second round – grounds for disqualification if he decided to tell anyone. Michelson and Ingham went back over his scorecard to see if the 70 might indeed be correct.
It wasn't. Michelson three-putted the par-4 11th for a bogey, but had signed for a par.
"You can say it was the only thing to do, but I could have easily have said nothing and I'd be playing in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst," said Michelson after returning from the ninth fairway, where he walked to be away from the crowds, getting sick while his caddie consoled him.
While Ingham refused to make the decision for his friend, he warned the Miami native of what was at stake here – his conscience.
"He told me 'This means the world to me, I don't know if I can do it,' " said Ingham. "(I told him) I think you are going to regret it if you don't come forward."
Michelson knew his caddie was right, reflecting back on a class he took last summer at Rice about sports ethics. He did a report on Blayne Barber, who disqualified himself from PGA Tour Q-School in 2012 for the same reason.
"I told myself I didn't know what I would do in that situation," said Michelson.
"But I decided to just go for it. I was just hoping there was something the rules official could do."
The mistake pushed Aussie Aron Price into the U.S. Open without the playoff.
Ranked No. 1,035 in the latest World Amateur Golf Rankings, Michelson ranked second in scoring average for Rice in 2013-14, playing in a team-high 35 rounds on the season.
"I am like the 1,000th-ranked amateur in the world," said Michelson, barely able to look at a bevy of reporters as his emotions continued to roll out. "The clothing sponsors, the club sponsors (for playing at the U.S. Open) … it would have been so much easier."
While very much at a loss for his words, the emotions still were raw nearly an hour after his last putt dropped.
A deep groan was all Michelson could muster at the end of Monday's interview, still processing what his ultimate honesty cost him – and three words came out of his mouth that rang the most true:
"That's just golf."