Jim Thorpe got his one-year jail sentence from a U.S. Magistrate judge face-to-face. The penalty from the PGA Tour? It was issued via e-mail.
“I’m under suspension,” Thorpe said a short time ago. “I got the e-mail Friday afternoon.”
Thorpe, the 61-year-old Champions Tour and PGA Tour veteran, was not allowed to enter next week’s Ace Group Classic in Naples, Fla., nor is he eligible until the Tour lifts the suspension.
Of course, in standard operating procedure in such cases, the Tour refuses to comment on anything connected to player discipline.
It’s the Tour’s reaction to the two counts of failure to pay taxes to which Thorpe pleaded guilty. Judge Karla R. Spaulding sentenced the golfer Jan. 22 in Orlando federal court to one year in jail, two years’ supervised release and 200 hours of community service. Thorpe also has agreed to pay nearly $2 million in back taxes, penalties and interest. He was ordered to report to jail by April 1.
His attorneys have filed an appeal “and at the least I thought the Tour would let me play until the appeal is done,” Thorpe said.
Last week, Thorpe, a 13-time winner on the Champions Tour, talked of his desire to rejoin the Tour, to get back onto the golf course where he was sure he could find an escape from the recent turmoil in his life. Friday, that all changed and Thorpe is trying to get a handle on the Tour’s decision.
“I’m surprised, because it’s a misdemeanor,” Thorpe said. “It’s stupidness on my part, but I didn’t think it deserved a jail sentence. I could see if I hurt someone or it was drugs or a serious felony.”
He was not, however, going to rail against a Tour that has been his home for more than 30 years.
“I don’t know the bylaws, and there’s probably something in the (regulations),” he said. “I guess they feel they have to protect other players.
“I’m quite sure it’s an uncomfortable position for (PGA Tour commissioner) Tim Finchem and (Champions Tour president) Mike Stevens and the entire Tour staff, but I’m hoping we can (win the appeal), come to some sort of compromise and get back out there.
“Golf is the only thing I know. I don’t know anything else.”