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Time to change the rule about signing incorrect scorecards



When Jordan Spieth (Titleist) was disqualified for signing off on an incorrect scorecard last week in the Genesis Invitational, I suddenly began to think of people who bet on the event and, specifically, the rules of the sport.

Imagine the surprise – and possibly disgust – when bettors who wagered on him to win the tournament or, at the very least make the cut, promptly found out he’d been DQ’d after signing a three instead of a four on the fourth hole. When he turned in his card and the error was caught, he was promptly booted out of the tournament.

To his credit, he took full ownership for the mistake, saying on social media: “Rules are rules and I take full responsibility.”

It was the first time Spieth made such an egregious mistake in 263 PGA Tour events.

He was only 10 shots behind leader Patrick Cantlay (Titleist) after the second round and was leaking oil after carding a double bogey on the last hole, but he was certain of making the cut. With Spieth, you can never totally count him out. He can make some incredibly bad shots and often berates himself, which makes for some

entertaining viewing, but is there anybody on the PGA Tour better at making sand saves?

But seriously, it wasn’t like Spieth was cheating, it was an oversight, an honest mistake, even if it’s the responsibility of the player to get it right before signing off. Everyone knew what his score was, it’s not like this is a secret, so this is where I find golf needs to seriously move into the 21st century instead of sticking with one of its most old-fashioned rules. With everything pro players are thinking about in terms of distance, club selection and discussion with their caddies, I’m surprised there are not more examples of signing cards incorrectly. Golf may be one of the craziest sports in terms of analyzing, overanalyzing, thinking, overthinking and either making the shot or blowing it.

So try explaining to a novice betting on the sport why Spieth was disqualified. Perhaps if you are new to the sport, you should know all the rules ahead of time before making a wager and know your bet has just been flushed with the tournament or the cut not even over. For longtime followers of the sport and, even seasoned bettors, this was quite simply a bad look.

According to a story on CNN’s website, PGA Tour player Michael Kim (Titleist) posted on his social media account, “There are many safeguards to this, but this is a stupid rule.”

PGA Tour caddie Kip Henley said on his social media account that it was “another benchmark in the dumbest rule in all of sports.”

“Seriously, why even have scorecards on the PGA Tour?” he spouted. “Why don’t professional bowlers keep their own scores.”

PGA Tour player Dylan Wu (Titleist) did not agree. On his social media account, Wu posted that signing an incorrect scorecard is like “forgetting to write your name down on a test. Amazes me how often this happens in pro golf. Math is hard I guess. Takes five seconds for the Tour officials to read your scores back and for you to check them.”

Rory McIlroy (TaylorMade) was issued a penalty after he completed his opening round in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for incorrectly dropping his ball on one hole. He said afterwards he dropped his ball thinking it was according to the rules in 2019 but was unaware the rule had changed in 2023. That basically is on him. There are a

myriad of USGA rules, but all golfers are responsible for knowing them.

Even signing your scorecard properly, but I agree it’s a dumb rule.

During his final round, Genesis Invitational winner Hideki Matsuyama (Srixon) was chipping out of the sticky Kikuyu grass. While he placed his club down, the ball moved, which could have resulted in a penalty, but hadn’t moved sufficiently according to officials. TV networks routinely employ former rules officials to provide explanations for these types of things in all sports, but golf is so microanalyzed that viewers have called in to voice complaints about rule infractions. That’s another reason to have rules officials as part of the broadcast.

But I find the rule about signing your scorecard incorrectly to be so outdated. I think there has to be some kind of change because while it may have made sense at one point when tournaments weren’t televised and scrutinized as much, nowadays all that has changed, and with betting it becomes even more of an issue.

What happened to Spieth was preceded by Tiger Woods (Bridgestone), the host of the event, having to withdraw because of what was determined to be influenza. With

Woods and his list of injuries, it was immediately assumed something happened, in particular because he indicated his back spasmed on him on the final hole in the first round.

Thankfully, he didn’t suffer an injury this time that forced him to bow out. It’s interesting how when he’s playing well or even playing poorly, Woods becomes bigger than his fellow players, but in this case he was literally too sick to continue.

Perry Lefko
Perry Lefko
Perry Lefko is an award-winning writer who has published nine books, three of them bestsellers. He has been involved in sports writing for more than 35 years and has interviewed many superstar athletes. He lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and enjoys watching golf and playing it.

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