10 Feuds, Spats and Petty Disagreements on Tour
GOLF is widely regarded as being a sport that is played by people of both sexes who know how to behave themselves. And largely speaking, it is a sport that is played in the right way. Players remove their caps and shake hands at the end of every round, and winners are warmly congratulated by their peers.
But it is not always like that. During the Abu Dhabi Championship, the first event of the year on the European Tour, an old row resurfaced between Gonalazo Fernandez Castano and Simon Dyson. It all revolved around a change in the rules relating to players finally being able to tap down spike marks. Fernandez Castano took to Twitter to say how odd it felt, but he couldn't resist a dig at Dyson, who found himself in hot water some years ago after being caught breaking the rules by using his golf ball to tap down a spike mark. It all ended in an unedifying Twitter row between the pair. But it got us thinking about several other feuds, spats and petty disagreements that have marred professional golf. There have been many, but ere, we pick out just 10, and a surprising number involve the Ryder Cup, where passions can run high.
First competitive round of the year on @EuropeanTour with the new rules on effect. Tapping down spikemarks felt so weird, it will take some time to get used to it - Unless you are Simon Dyson and you have been doing it for years.— Gonzalo Fdez-Castaño (@gfcgolf) January 16, 2019
Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka
It came as something of a shock when, on the flight home from a humiliating defeat at the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, when the supposedly best team the USA had ever fielded in the event were thrashed by Europe, Johnson allegedly came to blows with teammate and close friend Brooks Koepka. Though denied by the participants, eye-witness accounts reported on the incident, suggesting cracks in their relationship.
Colin Montgomerie and Nick Faldo
There was never as huge amount of love lost between the two British golfers, and things came to a head when Monty criticised Faldo's captaincy as Europe lost the 2008 Ryder Cup - to be fair, he was not alone in doing so. Faldo had some strange ideas when it came to team bonding and didn't even seem to be too sure about the identities of all his players. Two years later, Monty led Europe to victory at a rain-sodden Celtic Manor, and failed to ask Faldo for advice. Faldo hit back on air while working as a TV analyst, saying "Monty’s too busy these days cutting my head off to try to make himself look taller." It was very petty.
Rory Sabbatini and the PGA Tour
It is fair to say that Rory Sabbatini isn't the most unpopular player on the PGA Tour. Let's just say that the South Africa is, erm, opinionated, shall we? He has walked off greens and headed to the next tee while playing partners have still been putting out and at one stage his ex-wife had to come to his defence, insisting that he was deeply misunderstood.
Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia
The pair haven’t seen eye-to-eye for some time, and it all came to a head at the 2013 Players Championship when Garcia accused Woods of pulling a club from his bag while he was playing a shot, which sparked a reaction from the crowd that caused the Spaniard to make a mistake. Garcia was later asked he would have the American round for dinner. "We will have him round every night. We will serve fried chicken," said Garcia. Whoops! The comment, which was seen to be racist, not only upset Woods but nearly cost Garcia his lucrative contract with TaylorMade. Garcia later apologised but Woods never did go round for dinner.
Tiger Woods and Stephen Ames
The things they wish they had never said...Back in 2000, Stephen Ames said of Woods: "He doesn’t look like he has enough respect for other players. Tiger’s coming across as bigger than the game. He’s a spoiled 24-year-old. If I was in his position I’d be more considerate. If I was beating the spit out of [other players], I wouldn’t have to beat them in that way too. He made $11m [in 1999], endorsed more than $50m – what’s he got to be unhappy about?" Six years later, before the pair met at the World Match Play, Ames said: "Anything can happen, especially where he’s hitting the ball." Hmmm.... Woods beat him 9&8.
Miguel Angel Jimenez and Keegan Bradley
Miguel Angel Jimenez is, largely speaking, a laidback character, but not somebody you would want to rub up the wrong way. Keegan Bradley and his caddie, Steve Hale, found out the hard way at the WGC Matchplay in 2015. Jimenez questioned the ruling of a referee after Bradley was given free relief and it kicked off a huge row verbal spat between Jimenez, Bradley and Hale.
Paul Azinger and Seve Ballesteros
Azinger and Ballesteros properly disliked one another on the golf course - and didn't care who knew it. It all kicked off at the 1989 Ryder Cup when Ballesteros told the American he would be changing his damaged ball on the green, before putting. Demanding to see evidence of the damage, Azinger insisted the ball was perfectly playable and no change was allowed. Ballesteros was not one to let sleeping dogs lie and later in the round questioned Azinger's drop at the 18th hole. But all that was as nothing compared with what happened two years later in the Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island. Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal realised on the seventh hole that their opponents, Azinger and Chip Beck, had broken the rules by switching the type of golf ball they were using. However, they didn’t point it out until a few holes later when they were losing. It had the desired effect as the Americans lost their focus and the Spanish duo went on to win 2&1. Azinger later had some choice words to say about the Spaniard.
John Daly and Jeffrey Roth (and his father)
John Daly was no stranger to controversy, but his scuffle with Bob Roth, father of fellow PGA Tour player Jeffrey, at the 1994 World Series of Golf was spectatcular even by Daly's standards. Daly was grabbed from behind by 62-year-old Roth Sr outside the clubhouse and the pair fought before the crowd separated them. Roth was upset because Daly had twice hit balls into the group ahead of him, of which Roth's son was a part.
Team Europe and Team USA
As Europe began to dominate the Ryder Cup, so the matches became ever more unpleasant. But it reached an all-time low at Brookline in 1999. American fans directed abuse towards Colin Montgomerie, so much so that his father left the course early in disgust and his opponent, Payne Stewart, told the galleries to behave themselves and ended up conceding his match to Monty. But the moment that nobody will ever forget came when Justin Leonard was mobbed by members of the USA team on the 17th green as he sank his putt. The Americans were celebrating their probable victory despite Jose Maria Olazabal still having a chance to level the contest. European vice-captain Sam Torrance was not amused: "It’s about the most disgusting thing I’ve seen in my life. This is not sour grapes. The whole American team and spectators ran right across the green over Olly’s line. He still has a putt to tie the hole, we could still take the Ryder Cup home," he said. Torrance singled out Tom Lehman, who also celebrated wildly after holing a long birdie putt against Lee Westwood at the 13th: "It was disgusting and Tom Lehman calls himself a man of God. His behaviour today was disgusting." It turned out to be a watershed moment. The rivalry remains as intense as ever, but the matches are now played in the correct spirit
Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth
Somebody forgot to tell Patrick Reed about the new spirit when he played for the USA at Le Golf National in 2018.Tthe self-styled Captain America, who loves representing his country and adores the Ryder Cup, suffered a serious dose of sour grapes after his team's defeat. Reed announced that he was ready to "light up" the post-match press conference. He was upset because he’d been separated from previous playing partner Jordan Spieth. He said: "The issue’s obviously with Jordan not wanting to play with me. I don’t have any issue with Jordan. When it comes right down to it, I don’t care if I like the person I’m paired with or if the person likes me as long as it works and it sets up the team for success. He and I know how to make each other better. We know how to get the job done."
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