In many sports, competitors take pride in getting every edge they can. But in golf, professionals adhere to a strict code of honour, a trait that cost Brian Davis, the Englishman, a shot at his first PGA Tour victory on Sunday. Davis called a two-stroke penalty on himself on the first play-off hole to give Jim Furyk victory at the Verizon Heritage, South Carolina.
Davis had used a birdie on the 72nd hole to force the extra hole. However, his approach rolled off the green of the lighthouse hole and into some rocks. As he attempted to chip on, his wedge moved a loose reed in the marshy area. Davis quickly called for a rules official, who after calling colleagues to check the replay, confirmed the penalty. "I thought I saw movement," said Davis. "It's a disappointment."
He conceded to Furyk before the world's sixth-ranked player putted out. Davis nearly won in regulation, his approach to his final hole scaring the cup before settling 18 feet away. His birdie putt had just enough steam to drop in and force the extra hole. Instead of riding that momentum into the play-off, his second shot rolled off the side toward Calibogue Sound and rattled around the rocks before stopping on some hard-packed sand. That is when Davis ended the drama with his self-imposed violation.
Slugger White, the PGA Tour's tournament director who administrated the penalty, said Davis's actions were appropriate. White said Furyk came to Davis after and asked if he was sure it was a penalty. "I know I did it," White recalled Davis's response, "and I couldn't live with myself if I didn't." Furyk shot a 69 to finish at 13- under 271. The win was his 15th in the PGA Tour and second since March, earning him US$1.026 million (Dh3.768m).
He held a one-shot lead over Furyk with four holes left when things began to go wrong. Davis had back-to-back bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes to slip behind his ultra-steady opponent. Furyk has also posted two seconds and a fourth since 2005 at Harbour Town. Davis shot a 68 and, like Furyk, ended with four rounds in the 60s. Bo Van Pelt (69) and Luke Donald (70) were two shots further back in third. Camilo Villegas (70) headed a group another stroke behind.
The final round was not nearly as crazy as the third - Furyk still had the lead when he teed off, unlike on Saturday. Still, the charge was on to go as low as possible and take control. Heath Slocum, two behind at the start, had birdies on the second, fourth and sixth holes to catch Furyk. Aaron Baddeley, the former champion, tied Furyk at 11 under. But a triple-bogey seven on the eighth - Baddeley drove out of bounds - ended his chance of a second title.
By the middle of the back nine, it was down to Furyk and Davis. * AP