You won't see much of Appleton native JP Hayes on the PGA Tour next year. Hayes was eliminated from Qualifying School last week for a penalty he called on himself. Hayes was in the second stage of Q School in Texas when he noticed a ball he had put into play was not the same model with which he started the round. Hayes initially called a two-stroke penalty on himself at that time--in accordance with the rules of golf.
But after returning to his hotel following the round, JP took a closer look at the ball and found it was not on the list of those approved for play on the PGA Tour. Now remember, JP is by himself--nobody associated with the Q School, the Tour or any of his fellow competitors know about the rules violation and yet Hayes went to officials the next day and disqualified himself for using illegal equipment.
Don't think JP isn't going to suffer for this small act of honesty and honor. This season, the 125th ranked player on the PGA--the last to enjoy fully exempt status--made just under 826-thousand dollars. If Hayes had made it through Q School, he would have been fully exempt next year. Now he will have to hope for sponsors exemptions and Monday qualifying to make it into any tournaments on the Tour.
I wonder how many people would have had guts, the fortitude or the honor to make the same decision JP Hayes made last week in that hotel room? Think about it, would you give up the possibility of nearly a million dollars a year to come clean about a very minor transgression? I doubt there are many out there (probably mostly golfers) who would do that.
And JP is handling the situation with poise and class. In an interview last night with The Golf Channel, JP took full responsibility for using the illegal ball. He didn't blame the USGA for having a rule limiting what equipment can be used on the course. He doesn't think the PGA is being unfair for requiring players to go through qualifying to get on the Tour, he's not throwing his sponsor under the bus for giving him an un-approved ball to practice with, and he's not asking Congress for a bailout. JP Hayes says he has only himself to blame and he had to hold himself accountable. What a refreshing change in our society today.