Or, as Jim Furyk discovered Wednesday, his cellphone battery could die the night before a tournament’s pro-am.
Furyk overslept and missed his tee time at the Barclays pro-am Wednesday morning at the Ridgewood Country Club. Under PGA Tour rules, that makes him ineligible for the tournament, the first of four FedEx Cup playoff events.
Furyk, who is ranked third in the FedEx Cup standings, took responsibility for his cellphone calamity. He said he set his cellphone’s alarm clock Tuesday night, but somehow the phone’s battery — which he thought he had charged fully — died overnight. He awoke at 7:23 a.m., seven minutes before his scheduled tee time, and threw on a shirt and pants.
Beltless, sockless, and with his shoes untied, Furyk rushed from his hotel to the course, but he was too late.
“I’m beside myself,” he said, his shoes still untied. “I have a way of climbing into stupid situations.”
By missing the tournament, Furyk is likely to slide toward the bottom of the top 10 in the standings for the FedEx Cup, which carries a $10 million prize. (In the worst mathematical case, he would fall to 19th, though that is improbable.)
While Furyk’s inconvenient sleepiness was a subject of fascination here Wednesday, Furyk is not the first golfer to miss a pro-am tee time.
In 2005, Retief Goosen, who was the fifth-ranked player in the world at the time, missed his early-morning tee time for the pro-am at the Nissan Open and was declared ineligible for the tournament. And two years ago, John Daly was booted out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill after he missed the pro-am. His problem was not oversleeping; rather, he showed up at what turned out to be his starting time for the first round of the tournament, not the pro-am.
In his almost two decades on the PGA Tour, Furyk said he remembered only once being late to a pro-am, also at Bay Hill. In that case, the alternate filled in for him for two holes until he arrived.
That sort of thing has not been permitted since 2004. Now, a documented injury or a family emergency are the only grounds for players to be excused from the pro-am before a tournament in which they are to compete. That rule became the chief topic (at least among matters not mentioned in this week’s edition of People magazine) here Wednesday, where the gray skies and cold drizzle better suited sitting indoors debating PGA policy than walking the course and watching the pro-am.
Furyk said he was especially disappointed because the tournament was not just an ordinary event, and he found sympathy among his peers in that regard. Ernie Els, the leader in the FedEx Cup standings, suggested that the rule regarding pro-ams be altered for the FedEx Cup.
“I don’t think anybody thought about this, to be honest with you,” Els said. “I didn’t think about it. Now that it’s happened, maybe we should re-evaluate the rules for the playoff system, maybe. Maybe penalize him some points or something.”
Phil Mickelson was the most outspoken critic of the policy. His primary objection centered on the fact that only 54 of the 122 players were slotted to participate in the pro-am.
“It applies to only half the field and yet it affects the integrity of the competition,” he said of the rule. “I cannot disagree with it more. I have no idea how the commissioner let this rule go through. It’s ridiculous.”
But earlier in the day, officials were simply concerned with where exactly Furyk had disappeared to. Slugger White, the PGA Tour’s vice president for rules and competitions, said tournament officials were looking for him a half-hour before his tee time. They became worried when Furyk’s caddie, Mike Cowan, said he had called Furyk but his cellphone would not ring through (which, in hindsight, makes sense). White said he feared at first that Furyk might have been in an accident on the way to the course.
When Furyk did show up, tournament officials had already sent an alternate out to No. 11, where Furyk was to tee off. White, meanwhile, broke the news to him.
“A commitment to play in the tournament is a commitment to play in the pro-am,” White said.
Although Furyk was clearly frustrated with being rendered ineligible and the possible consequences for his place in the standings — “I played my heart out all year,” he said — he took the news in stride.
“The rules are rules,” he said.
Time Was Not on Their Side
Way to go Pro! That's gonna sting forever... I doubt anyone will let him live this down in the clubhouse. Darn... now I kindda feel bad for him, but it is his own doing. I guess if I was playing for a million plus a tournament I might hire someone to have the single task of waking me up on time... and still set my alarm... and charge my phone.