In a couple of "My Two Cents" I have extolled the virtues of high-level golfers--like JP Hayes for disqualifying himself from Q-School after finding out he used an unapproved ball--or Brian Davis who called a penalty on himself at the Heritage tournament a few weeks ago that cost him a chance to win in a playoff. But today, I have to take a golfer to task for tainting the honor of the sport.
In a recent NAIA (which is the governing body for colleges not in the NCAA) regional qualifying tournament, Grant Whybark and Seth Doran finished in a tie for the final spot in the National Championship Tournament. Because Whybark was a member of the team that had already won the qualifier--he was guaranteed a spot the national tournament. Therefore, Whybark lost the playoff hole by intentionally hitting his drive 40-yards out of bounds--giving Doran the final qualifying spot. Whybark was more than willing to admit to throwing the match. "We all know Seth very well...somehow it just wasn't in my heart to knock him out" he told reporters after the round.
Sounds like the ultimate act of sportsmanship doesn't it? Well then you are probably one of those people who believe that we shouldn't keep score in youth sports--and that everyone should go home from a tournament with a trophy. Those of us who believe sports should be about competition and giving your best from the first shot to the last have a bad taste in our mouths from Whybarks' "concession".
First off, if you are going to tank a match--don't announce it to the whole world--and don't make it so obvious. A missed putt just below the hole or a flubbed chip around the green would have accomplished the task in a much less glaring way than driving your ball forty yards OB and laughing about it. (When I first heard about this, the first thing I thought of was Brett Favre "losing his footing" so Michael Strahan could set the single-season sack record. How much do you think Brett's offensive linemen appreciated that move?)
Secondly, do you think Seth Doran really feels like he "earned" his trip to Nationals? "How did you qualify, Seth?" "Oh, some guy intentionally hit the ball out of bounds in the playoffs because he felt sorry for me." I can tell you from experience, it feels a whole lot better winning because you went out and beat your opponent than it does getting a "W" through a forfeit. And believe me, Doran's life would have been just as fulfilling if he had not won the playoff for that final spot.
I'm a big fan of irony--so now I'm hoping that Seth Doran has the tournament of his life at the NAIA Nationals and knocks off all of Grant Whybark's teammates for the championship--so that the "gracious loser" has to answer to all the guys he sould have been helping to win.