HOUSTON // Brian Davis has never seen anything quite like it, despite having twice triumphed on the European Tour and won the PGA Tour's qualifier in 2004. Since his remarkable act of sportsmanship in a play-off for the Heritage Classic at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, on Sunday, the e-mails of congratulation have been pouring in from those inspired by his actions beside the 18th green.
"I've gotten more congratulations this week than when I've won," Davis said on Wednesday, on the eve of the first round of the New Orleans Classic in Louisiana. "It's a weird feeling. "E-mails started flooding in from people not necessarily golf fans, just ordinary people who heard what had happened and just wanted to say congratulations and thanks for being honest and following the spirit of the game.
"The last two days have been humbling," said Davis, 35, who is based in Florida. "I've received a lot of messages from school teachers, parents, children." The Englishman cost himself the chance to win his first PGA Tour title shortly after he had rolled in a 17-foot birdie putt on the 18th green to force a play-off with the American Jim Furyk. Furyk won at the first extra hole when Davis was given a two-stroke penalty for making contact with a loose impediment in a hazard when playing his third shot.
On his backswing, Davis barely clipped a dry reed with his club before splashing out to 30 feet and he immediately called over a rules official to clarify the situation via television replay. Having been penalised, Davis missed his long-range putt and conceded the title to Furyk. The American Charles Howell III, a double winner on the PGA Tour, applauded Davis. "In watching it, I didn't see a rules infraction at all," Howell said. "It's bizarre in the fact that you have to go to a high-speed camera and slow it down to find one.
"With the adrenaline and the nerves, I'm surprised he even felt he touched that twig. It took him away from the chance to win his first golf tournament." * Reuters