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Nov 15th, 2019
Oh, Billy Billy Billy
Mayfair’s disqualification is not enough
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
Colin Montgomerie won the Champions Tour’s Invesco QQQ Championship last weekend, but the big story was one Billy Mayfair and the breaking of not one but two rules of golf. The story does not paint Mr Mayfair in a good light and the same must be said about the Champions Tour who seem to be trying to sweep the incidents under the carpet.
Playing the 17th hole Mayfair caused his ball to move in the rough which should have resulted in Mayfair calling a one stroke penalty on himself and the ball being replaced. However, Billy decided he had not caused the ball to move and told the rules official that.
“My ball was right here,” Mayfair said, using his club as a pointer. “I got over it. I did not touch it, I did not get near it. I had the club up by it, but it was not in the ground.”
The problem was that everyone on television saw the incident and it was clear that Mayfair had grounded his club and caused his ball to move. Lanny Wadkins who was commentating for the broadcaster was clearly unimpressed: “It’s disturbing. We’re like, ‘Whoa, wait a minute. That’s not what happened.’ We hate seeing that. It puts us in a bad position.”
However, as the rumblings were going on another infringement by the 53-year-old from Arizona was coming to light. On the 11th hole he had lost his ball but found it, asked for an embedded ball ruling, which was declined, and completed the hole with a somewhat ugly seven on the card. The issue was however that the ball search had exceeded three minutes.
When asked after the round by Brian Claar, the Champions Tour head rules official, Mayfair confirmed the ball search had taken 3 minutes.
Claar then proceeded to show Mayfair the footage of the incident at the 17th. Mayfair acknowledged he caused the ball to move and as the ball was not moved back it is a two-shot penalty and he signs his card for a 76.
That would have been it but for a call to Claar from the scorer from the Mayfair-Jiminez pairing who says that the ball search was in excess of three minutes. Claar gets hold of footage of the search from one of the broadcasters and calculates the ball search was almost five minutes.
On challenging Mayfair with the information, the conversation as relayed by Claar makes interesting reading. “I told Billy it took him between 4:50 and 4:55 to find the ball. He said, ‘Well, we have a five-minute search.’ I said, ‘No, the rules have changed this year. It’s three minutes.’ He said, ‘I didn’t realise that.’ I explained that the ball he played is deemed lost. He played the wrong ball.”
Claar then added that Mayfair would have been disqualified at the 11th, so whatever went on to happen six holes later was irrelevant as he was already out of the tournament. We take issue with that statement as it seeks to deflect from Mayfair’s conduct at the 17th hole.
It further transpires that the PGA Tour are declining to share the footage of the incident at the 17th hole or provide a transcript of the conversation with the rules official. Bad decision.
We have racked our brains for the most appropriate words to describe Billy Mayfair conduct at the Champions Tour’s Invesco QQQ Championship, but we keep coming back to the same two “He cheated”.
Mayfair reaction to be called out also beggars belief. “I wish this could have been handled more on an on-the-level basis,” Mayfair said. “It could have been handled better.” By this he apparently blamed the rules officials for his transgressions. “They see me searching for the ball. They know how long I’m looking for it. They have a stopwatch and I don’t.”
In summary, Mayfair broke the rules of golf twice! Twice he professed innocence and twice was proven to be telling porky pies. The PGA Tour may seek to hush it up, but it is clear HE CHEATED. If the tour won’t say it, we will, and we further believe he deserves some form of further punishment such a lengthy suspension. Controversial? We don’t think so. It’s time them in charge started taking a stand!
And another thing...
3 minute rule – what 3 minute rule?