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Davis and Davies inspire despite near misses

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Iain Carter | 20:45 UK time, Monday, 19 April 2010

Their surnames sound the same, indeed there is only one letter to differentiate them, and after near misses on separate tours they are the talk of golf.

Brian Davis and Rhys Davies both picked up runner-up cheques at the weekend. The former confirmed his status as one of the top blokes in the game while the latter further enhanced a growing reputation for excellence.

Let's start with Davis and his play-off defeat to Jim Furyk in the Verizon Heritage tournament on the PGA Tour.

The sudden death shoot-out effectively ended when the Englishman alerted a rules official to the possibility that he may be liable to a two-stroke penalty for moving a loose impediment in a hazard on the backswing of his third shot on the first extra hole.

davis_blog.jpg Davis has been overwhelmed by the messages of support he has received - photo: AP

It was the kind of sportsmanship and honesty that will only be consistently found in golf and snooker. His action was so in keeping with the way golf should be played that it perhaps shouldn't merit too much comment. It's just what golfers are expected to do.

But we live in an age when cricketers rarely walk when they know they have edged it to the keeper, where rival packs of rugby union forwards are engaged in a contest of who can cheat without detection and let's not go near football's ethos.

Thankfully golf more often than not is different; a sport where the code of honour is its code of conduct.

In other pursuits they form disciplinary panels to try to punish those who step out of line. They impose their bans and fines but fail to deter the cheats.

The ways of golf suggest that to do that you have to foster a culture that dictates zero toleration of deliberate rule breaking. Being the subject of locker room whispers that question your integrity is a far worse punishment than any ban or fine.

Why don't organisations like the Professional Footballers' Association adopt a similar sort of policy and make their members sign up to a code of conduct that states deliberate cheating is not be tolerated?

That would surely be a far more effective move to clean up the game than having some blazer imposing suspensions and mining the bottomless pits of a player's pocket.

Davis was acting within the parameters effectively set by his golfing peers when he made it known that he thought he may have disturbed that stray reed in the hazard at the first extra hole.

He wasn't doing anything special in calling the penalty on himself, but it was an act that reinforces golf's healthiest trait and is therefore well worthy of comment. "They're the rules and you have to live by them," Davis said.

"It's one of those things, it's what you do, it's what makes our sport so special."

Davis has helped set a perfect example with his conduct. He has been amazed at the reaction he has received, with his email and text inboxes bombarded by well wishers.

"I had a text message from a senior golfer who once called a penalty on himself in a tournament against Jack Nicklaus," Davis said. "He said 'I know you are down and didn't win, but trust me it'll be the best thing you ever did.'"

There was little guarantee that Davis would have beaten Furyk from the position he was in on that play-off hole, but he's still more than aware of what slipped by with his defeat.

It wasn't just the extra prize money, but a place at next year's Masters and a guarantee of playing privileges. "But I couldn't live with myself if you don't call it on yourself," he told BBC 5 live.

As for Rhys Davies the story is all about golfing excellence that is starting to excite Wales in the year that the country stages the Ryder Cup for the first time.

Weekend rounds of 65 and 67 gave the 24-year-old a share of second place with compatriot Stephen Dodd behind YE Yang at the Volvo China Open.

It was Davies's third top three finish of the season, having won the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco and finished third at the Malaysian Open. He has risen to 71st in the world rankings in his first full season on tour and is in the top 10 in the Race to Dubai.

The Edinburgh-born Welshman still has work to do to get into the Ryder Cup reckoning, but captain Colin Montgomerie has spoken of his desire to have a Welshman on board.

Monty will be aware that Davies has played with distinction in two Walker Cups, winning both his singles games in 2007. He's currently 322,878 euros short of the lowest automatic place on the team.

It is not an insurmountable gap and the skipper is sure to be watching his progress closely.

As will fans in Korea this week. Davies was going to take the week off and head home but the current flight chaos made that impossible so he decided to head to the Ballantine's Championship instead.

As the saying goes - "keep up with the Jones's", well keeping tabs on the Davies/Davis's is a rewarding pursuit in golf right now.


  • Comment number 1.

    Brian Davis acted with great integrity in effectively calling the penalty on himself, no question.
    You could argue that someone with a TV camera on top of them would be very foolish to risk tainting their entire career by failing to report a possible infringement and that he had the slimmest of chances of continuing the playoff even without the penalty. But the speed with which he did it shows that there was no hesitation or calculation.
    So yes, it is heartwarming to find his act of honesty appreciated. Nevertheless I'm taken aback by the scale of the reaction in the U.S.
    There's a blog on a well-known sports site written by Jay Busbee. At the time of writing there are well over 3000 comments, many of them extrordinarily over-the-top in their praise of Davis, saying he is a role-model for their children, he should get Tiger's sponsorship deals, run for President, must be a 'man of God' etc. Meanwhile, on 606 there are just a handful of comments on the incident, albeit positive.
    It's bizarre. On the one hand it suggests that a lot of people in America put a great value on honesty and integrity, but on the other it makes it seem like they have a pitifilully low expectation of the morality of professional golfers. I don't think that every golfer would have acted like Davis but I do think a lot of them would. And surely a player calling a penalty on him or herself when there are no cameras around should be lauded even more.
    P.S. I'm sad to see that Brian's manager Gary (motormouth) Evans already seems to be milking this and making a crass comparison with a certain golfer's off-course behaviour.

  • Comment number 2.

    Whilst it can only be applauded that somebody has owned up to possible cheating and yes it's true that footballers could learn to be a bit more accepting of decisions instead of acting like children - you have to remember that anyone can play football but...

    So when mentioning how great the sport of Golf is, we need to remember it's not perfect and has it's down side.

    Is this another example of elitism - 'look how great we are. We own up when we've done wrong?'

    This is, of course, only my opinion and I hope that this post isn't deleted like the last time I gave my similar opinion on 606 in a thread about Tiger Woods.

    I will add though that Golf is a really great game. I enjoy playing it and not everyone is as elitist as the 'top' echelons.

  • Comment number 3.

    Re #2 - i've just read that article and it is a complete and utter load of testicles. If that journalist thinks that any more than a small percentage of golf clubs in this country are like that then he is a fool, and if you think that he is right you too are a fool.

  • Comment number 4.

    Excellent blog Iain. Although Golfers are expected to show such honesty and sportsmanship, I always think its nice to take a moment to appreciate an act of pure integrity that is in keeping with the spirit of the game. Good read about Rhys too! I think Monty’s right about getting a Welshman on board for the Ryder cup. Whether Rhys' time may have come too soon is another question though.

    Also Re #2. What a complete total waste of time that was reading such dismal drivel. That’s a good 5 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. I'd rather your post was removed to save other people from suffering the gargantuan "Sigh" they'll emit at the end of such lazy journalism. Well done on pretending it’s the 70’s again.

  • Comment number 5.

    @ also need to keep in mind that football suffers from its own brand of elitism and doesn't tolerate people like Graeme Le Saux who was one of the few premiership footballers to go through university. When you look at the amount of abuse he received from players and fans in the world of football as a result, the comments in this article seem justified.

  • Comment number 6.

    Have to say that independent article is pretty pathetic and as is common with a lot of journalists has really gone for the sensationalist angle to try and sell the story. Is golf elitest? Sadly there is an element of it but most public courses don't have issues like that so to say the elitist element stops kids getting involved I think is ridiculous. Golf's so expensive and the club's mentioned in that article will be ones where membership costs an arm and a leg. Youngsters looking to get into the game would mainly only be exposed to their local public courses where nothing like that goes on so to give that as a reason why more kids don't play I think is clutching at straws. The expense would be more the reason. It can cost lets say on average £15 for a round of golf whereas it costs nothing to go and have a kick about in the park with your mates. And golf clubs aren't cheap but you can pick up a football or rugby ball for a fiver.

    I think it's a bit sad that you say "Is this another example of elitism - 'look how great we are. We own up when we've done wrong?'" Surely that's something to be applauded rather than questioned isn't it? We've had the exploits of the Englad football team recently, Thierry Henry's handball for France against Ireland, the eye gouging antics in rugby union and an umpire referral system being brought into cricket due to players not being able to show honesty. Surely this example of terrific sportsmanship by a golfer should be held up as something to admire like it is in this article rather than a reason to ask is it another example of elitism in golf?

    I do agree that golf isn't perfect and does still have a downside. Yes there are exclusivity issues in the top clubs and a certain snobbishness but there are plenty of other clubs where people can play. And hopefully people will be less and less prepared to put up with clubs behaving like that and lead them to change their ways.

  • Comment number 7.

    Remove it then if you don't like hearing opinions you don't agree with.

  • Comment number 8.

    #2, that has to be one of the worst articles I have ever read. Cant believe I even took the time to read it all.
    Iain, it was great to see Brian calling the referee. The best thing about it was that he called him immediately. The odds were stacked against him anyway as Furyk holed out & Brian would have had a 30 footer to continue but I watched it again and am of the opinion that if Brians shot had landed inside a foot he would still have called the referee. Well done Brian. Hope your PGA Tour win comes soon.

  • Comment number 9.

    #2 That Mark Steel does not have a clue what it's like to be a member of a golf club is patently evident by the drivel written in his article last year. One has to question if he's ever had the pleasure of lofting a 9 iron into the centre of the 18th green with a pack balcony of your fellow members looking on from the 19th? I got into golf playing with my dad back in the 1970's at Royal Ashdown Golf Club in Forest Row. At the time he was employed as a BA airline pilot, and he was a member of the Artisans club. Being a Yorkshireman he was more careful with his money than any Scotman!
    Brian Davis - full marks for up holding the game's traditions of fair play. Master's exemption for sure next year if he doesn't make the top 50.

  • Comment number 10.

    #7, remove what? None of us have written the article we can;t remove it. Why would I want to anyway? You've posted something and we're now having a debate about it, there's no big deal.

  • Comment number 11.

    Cheating and golf don't go together?

    Not sure Tiger's wife would agree with that one!

  • Comment number 12.

    Good article, nice to see you give Brian Davis some ink for a change.
    To complete the story, you could have added that Slugger White had warned Brian not to hit the loose reed on his backswing before he played the shot, so it was already under some scrutiny. Equally true that White didn't see the reed move, but you can be sure CBS cameras would have spotted it.
    Not to take away from Davis acknowledging his transgression in any way.
    He will have gained a lot from his play, his defeat and his sportsmanship.

  • Comment number 13.

    To Mr Hannieherbcok,

    You are so off the line my friend.

    The press have dragged GOLF yes the GAME through the dirt with their attempts to bring down a certain player. That certain players actions have massively affected the game's levels of respect (and sponsorship) which can be proven by the millions of pounds that were wiped off the stock exchange due to his transgressions or are you going to disagree with that too?

    Brian has shown you and the world what being honorable is all about. I hope you might have the capability that "MILKING" an honorable sportsman is far from what I'm doing. I'm using a positive message that hundreds of people have bothered to email Brian and myself with to assist his profile.

    I'm sorry if you have a problem with that but if you do...then you clearly don't understand the business of golf and you'll never understand how to manage a sportsman.

    Gary Evans

  • Comment number 14.

    I'd like to add fencing to list of sports where honesty is a common policy.

  • Comment number 15.

    Kwinas, did you hear slugger saying that to Brian before it. I could not hear the conversation they had.

  • Comment number 16.

    No, I just read the transcript of Slugger's press conference:
    "When he hit the ball into the hazard I cautioned him not to touch anything loose. etc etc"

    Brian said that he saw the reed and didn't consider that he would hit it on his backswing, but evidently his actual swing was on a different plane.

    Not trying to take anything away from Brian in any way, especially as White didn't notice the club hit the reed, Brian was the only one present to sense that it had.

  • Comment number 17.

    Cheers Kwinias, I didnt hear that. Slugger seemed a little confused himself by the ruling but I think that might have been whether he caught it on the way back or the way down.
    If Brian had he not called it and went on to halve the hole they might have copped it anyway as they often show the slow motion swing if they have it, which they did. It would have made for worse viewing had he been in the process of playing the next hole and they pointed it out to him.
    Thats why his reaction time in calling Slugger was impressive, there was no time for thinking of any consequence. It was just a natural thing for him to do.

  • Comment number 18.

    Re #2: Mark Steel is a one dimensional and entirely predictable writer -most of his articles will crowbar in his out of date perception of class struggle. There was no doubt more than a grain of truth in it 30 years ago, when such reporting would have been genuinely helpful. It's quite sad that a clearly intelligent man has become so blinkered, although in his defence I suppose you could argue that prejudice which by it's very nature is irrational, is therefore more difficult to shake off.

  • Comment number 19.

    Though golfers tend to have sportsmanship running through there veins lets not forget the Americans at the Ryder cup or Paulo Di Canio's catching of the football. It isn't merely one way traffic.

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm a little confused by this. I haven't seen the incident so can't speak with any authority, but as I understand the rule about hazards, if you touch a plant on the backswing there is no penalty. In the hazard you cannot ground the club (I haven't heard anyone say this about Davis), and you cannot remove loose impediments (it doesn't sound like he did this either). From the R&A web-site:

    "At any time, including at address or in the backward movement for the stroke, the player may touch, with a club or otherwise, any obstruction, any construction declared by the Committee to be an integral part of the course or any grass, bush, tree or other growing thing."

    Does this not cover what happened to Davis?

  • Comment number 21.

    You do see some moments of genuine sportsmanship in football, though they are rare. Remember Paulo DiCanio catching a cross in the penalty area after an opponent had gone down injured, rather then try and exploit the opportunity by scoring. I recall Harry Redknapp wasn't too chuffed. Also, I think it was Yeovil Town who, having been awarded a blatant non-goal due to a refereeing blunder, allowed their opponents to walk the ball into their net from the restart to even things up.

  • Comment number 22.

    Brian struck a loose impedimant during his backswing, a reed that he had previously felt was outside his swing plane.
    He knew the rule, he suspected he'd violated it, and he immediately called over the PGA Tour official.
    Rule 13.4 applied.

  • Comment number 23.

    But it was clearly in his swing plane if he hit it, no? Good on him for calling it if he felt there might have been an infringement, but I feel he was badly advised by the referee.

  • Comment number 24.

    By the way, the quote from R&A above is in Rule 13.4

  • Comment number 25.

    I've now viewed the incident and I really believe he did nothing that broke any rules of golf. I'm really surprised no-one's picked up on this.

  • Comment number 26.

    Give Me A Break! The reed that Davis hit was not growing it was detatched and therefore regarded as a loose impediment, hence the breach of rule.
    Bullboa decent point on DiCanio, but we all know such incidents are the exception rather than the norm, whereas in golf it is the other way round.

  • Comment number 27.

    OK, Iain, I get it. Thanks for the explanation.

  • Comment number 28.

    Well done Brian re the penalty. Quite right. No matter where or when, the rules are the rules. However, Iain, your article must surely go on to comment on the appalling lack of rules knowledge and/or integrity of club golfers. How many would have known why Davis did what he did?
    I am staggered at what I witness - preferred lies seems to mean move it any distance any direction any number of times; move that annoying clump of grass from behind the ball is quite acceptable; ground the club in a hazard is not an issue; nudge the ball by accident but not replace it before hitting it; etc etc.
    Even more staggering is the reaction when I call the penalty ('what for now?' is the cry) and say that I have to because if I didn't then I would be breaking the rules too.
    I don't claim to know the rules like a tour ref but I sometimes feel I may have a better chance of winning against a pro off the stick end who plays by the rules than your common or garden club member with their own 'Rules of Golf' in the monthly medal...

  • Comment number 29.

    Brian Davis did what was expected of him, when he touched the reed. This was seized on because in many popular sports, it is considered to be "fair game" to get away with whatever you can eg cricket, rugby and football. So golf is different, and if you want to call that difference elitist then that sort of elitism is a good thing. It is a pity that the majority of professionals who play the other sports don't have the same attitude. Mark Steel has let himself down with his prejudiced article, and I feel sorry for him for being so narrow minded and missing out on a great game.

    Rhys Davies looks a good bet for the Ryder Cup - he sure can putt, and we could do with someone like that as he also seems to show no fear.

    Gary Evans - i get what you say about promoting Brian Davis, and good luck with that. But what is the rest of your note about? I didn't understand what you were saying. Can you explain?

  • Comment number 30.

    I agree that Brian Davis should be commended for calling the penalty. Anyone who has played golf at a high level knows what is expected, cameras or no cameras. I think that what Darren Clarke did in the 2006 Ryder Cup was an example of incredible sportsmanship and honesty, he had everything to gain and nobody knew anything about what had happened.

    Brian Davis on the other hand had a camera behind him and had left his shot a long way from the hole. His decision did not cost him $1m, maybe a slim chance to continue the play off. If he had left his shot stone dead, then that's a completely different decision, made easier by the camera behind him.

    However, he should be congratulated as all should be who uphold the honesty and integrity of golf. I believe that golf is a shinig light of those qualities, it is not the only sport which promotes personal development but it is an ever dying number. A sad reflection that today's society glorifies cheating, controversy and even violence and calls it entertainment. Until it happens to you.

    Great to see Rhys Davies doing well, hope he continues.

  • Comment number 31.


    I appreciate that you're unlikely to respect anything I write given the sentence about you at the end of my comment (I should explain that I admired your brave stand over Jakartagate several years back - I just felt personally that it was gratuitous to make further comments during last year's Open but that's another subject). Nevertheless I apologise for being rude and it is a lesson for me not to make a casual remark about a person over the internet that I wouldn't say to their face.

    Regarding this situation, there is already so much goodwill towards Brian for what he did that I hope he can just enjoy the respect he will undoubtedly get from his peers and the galleries wherever he goes. It was the references to golf having recently been dragged through the mud and hurt by the actions of certain individuals that I thought a bit unnecessary and opportunistic. Maybe I was unfair but that's how it came across to me when I read it.


  • Comment number 32.

    Excellent point bullboa (post 19). Not so much the Di Canio thing - a lot of cynics would say that they might not of scored anyway. More the point about the US Ryder Cup antics.

    They started the whole thing at Kiawah (sp?) Island in 91, with general rowdiness to incite the crowd, then went one better at Brookline in 99. That was disgraceful, and almost everyone now will agree that it was unacceptable. Torrance and Strange managed to restore some dignity, and then we saw a few years of Eurpoean dominance. So what does azinger do? Refers to the crowd as the 13th man, and basically encourages them to do all they can to try and put the Europeans off. I think it really stinks and that the crowd should be encouraged to be respectful to both sides, not to try and get some psychological advantage. We saw at Brookline (when Monty's wife was insulted and someone was spat at I seem to recall) that the US crowd cannot sem to keep this within limits, even if the players have now learned to. But you get a 20 year old like Anthony Kim fist pumping and whooping etc which I think is disrespectful and not in the spirit of the game.

    Re Brian Davis, hats off to him. I agree that the situation had nothin to do with his decision. But you will find many other examples. Paul Casey called a penalty on himself at the 09 Masters (when in contention) when his ball moved a millimeter or so after a gust of wind. Davis Love once called a penalty on himself when he was unsure if he had moved his marker back when he moved it out of the way of his playing partners line. He missed the cut by one shot, and missed the Masters as a result I think. 99% of professionals would do the same.

    I think what sets golf and snooker (and fencing maybe) apart is that they are individual sports. Golf especially. It is one of the few sorts where you aren;t directly competing against another person or team (insofar as you don't influence them or their score). You play against the course really. In football or cricket, it is you against another team and somehow that makes the rivaly more bitter and makes people less inclined to be honest - perhaps because they don't think that honesty will be reciprocated. In golf, you have 50 or 100 other competitors so you tend not to think of it in that way. Unless you are a US Ryder Cup team fan I suppose

  • Comment number 33.

    Well I think this is a really stupid rule. As I understand it, moving the loose impediment would have been against the rules, so how could he have played the shot without breaking one or other of these rules?

    Crazy! The R&A should look at this rule again and revise it.


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