Honest Hayes owns up and loses out on exemption

J.P. Hayes has denied himself a place on the 2009 PGA Tour because he was honest.

The two-time tour winner disqualified himself from Qualifying School having played a non-conforming ball during the second stage of the tournament.

It means the 43-year-old will not play on the main tour next season.

During the first round of the second stage at Deerwood Country Club in Texas, Hayes was given a ball by his caddie, which he teed up on the 12th hole. After chipping on to the green, he marked the ball.

At that point, he realised that it was not the same model of Titleist that he began the round with, which violated the one-ball rule. That meant a two-stroke penalty.

After his round, during which he recovered to put himself in line for a top 20 place and a berth on the Tour, it got worse. It suddenly occurred to him that, not only had he used a second ball, but that ball may not even be approved by the PGA.

As it turned out, it was a prototype Titleist ball and he had no choice but to disqualify himself. Well, in truth, he did have a choice. He could have looked the other way and no-one would have been any the wiser.

However, he decided to play it honest and pay the price for a mistake that he blamed squarely on himself. He was quoted as saying:

“It was a Titleist prototype, and somehow it had gotten into my bag. It had been four weeks since Titleist gave me some prototype balls and I tested them. I have no idea how or why it was still in there … I called an official in Houston that night and said, ‘I think I may have a problem’. He said they’d call Titleist the next day. I pretty much knew at that point I was going to be disqualified.”

Hayes has more than US$7 million in career earnings. He won the 1998 Buick Classic and 2002 John Deere Classic.

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