Yesterday the European Tour Disciplinary Panel ruled on its review of an rules violation involving Simon Dyson, and called him a lying cheater. Not in those exact words. But that is exactly what the panel members would say if they were discussing their ruling after loosening their preppie neckties and finishing their third bourbon in their men-only bar at the club. Lying cheater.
At a tour event in October 2013, Dyson clearly tapped down a spike mark on the green that was in his line (a violation of Rule 16-1(a) for both the USGA and R&A for touching the intended line of his putt). Dyson was disqualified (not for tapping down the spike mark, but for not adding a two-stroke penalty for tapping down the spike mark and therefore signing an incorrect scorecard) from the event. Dyson, for his part, said he didn’t recall doing it, didn’t intend to break any rule, and accepted the punishment of two-strokes and the subsequent disqualification with grace. But it wasn’t enough. The tour officials were agitated and some other players were agitated.
We understand that tapping down a spike mark on your intended putting line is a severe violation. He was penalized and disqualified. But beyond that? Wouldn’t you want there to be a pattern of rules violations to suggest that a player is too cavalier with the rules (nod to Brandel Chamblee). Dyson is not a chronic rule-breaker. He doesn’t appear to have a hostile history with other players or the tour. By all outward appearance, Dyson has been a solid member of the Tour. But for whatever reason, the Euro Tour has decided that Dyson deliberately broke this rule, and therefore was dishonest in his claim that it was not deliberate. (Read the ruling here.) So the Tour decided to brand him a cheater. And a liar. And they mean for this to cast a long shadow over Dyson for the rest of his career.
The Tour’s punishment of a roughly $50,000 fine and the equivalent of an 18-month probation (during which any significant rules violation would likely result in a 2-month suspension) were handed out, but those pale in comparison to the damage to his reputation. For us, we wish Dyson well. We would love to see him win four events in 2014, win the Order of Merit, make the Ryder Cup and then drive over to the Euro Tour’s HQ in Surrey and do doughnuts on its lawn. But he probably won’t. He’ll just play some decently competitive golf as the rules masters sip their bourbon and tut at the moral decay of today’s golfers, just like their forefathers no doubt did about them a generation earlier.
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