Matt Kuchar had almost two million reasons to call foul on Sergio Garcia during their quarter-final match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
In the end, Kevin Kisner saw to it that the tenth highest earning player in the history of the PGA Tour earned “only” $1,095,000 for his week’s efforts in Texas – a week that proved, once and for all, that money can’t buy class.
Sergio was wrong to assume that his six-inch putt on the seventh hole was ‘good’ and silly in the way he attempted to get the ball in the hole. He caused this mess.
However, to suggest he is wholly and solely responsible for the way everything unravelled thereafter it is wrong. Can’t say it any plainer. Just plain wrong.
A recap: Kuchar, who had somehow scrambled a bogey out of the hole after a terrible tee shot, had left the green before Sergio hit his par putt. The Spaniard’s effort missed by a couple of inches on the left side and, presuming the tap-in for the halve was good, Garcia used the back of his putter to finish up. Just one problem: he missed.
Again, for the avoidance of doubt, Sergio screwed up.
This is where it gets messy.
Kuchar claims to have been attending to something in his bag when Sergio was putting and (conveniently?) looked up in time to see him miss the tap-in.
As Garcia left the green, Kuchar told him that he hadn’t given the putt.
“Sergio, I didn’t say anything. I’m not sure how this works out”, Kuchar claims to have said.
He added he “didn’t want it to be an issue” and so he asked the attending rules official for guidance on what should happen.
He wasn’t sure “how this works out”? Not buying it. Kuchar has been a professional golfer for nearly 20 years. He has played in this particular matchplay event ten times, the Ryder Cup four times and the Presidents Cup another four. He knows how matchplay works. He knows that, if you don’t concede a putt, the stroke counts. The oblivious, virtuous fool act doesn’t wash. That he thinks it does shows just how contemptuously low his regard is for those who watch and follow him.
“I didn’t want that to be how a hole was won or lost,” he added.
After Sergio suggested he could concede the next to restore parity, Kuchar said “I’m not sure I’m ready to concede a hole.”
Read: I feel terrible about this… but not really.
In my opinion, it is disingenuous and an affront to intelligence. Actions speak louder than words. Kuchar’s words belie sincerity; his actions define cunning.
I wonder how he would have responded if Sergio scooped up his ball rather than half-heartedly attempted to finish. Would he still have called the penalty? Surely not.
For a man in desperate need of some positive PR, this was an opportunity spurned by Kuchar. He could have ignored Sergio’s infraction – and if he wasn’t going to make him putt it, why not? – and nobody would have been any the wiser.
He could have kept schtum but quietly reminded Sergio on the next tee to listen out for the concession before launching any rattles.
There’s a compelling case for him conceded the next hole. If he’d done so, he’d have come out of the whole incident looking like a hero at the expense of making Sergio, quite deservedly, look incredibly silly. As Lee Westwood pointed out, with a different, more sportsmanlike handling of the incident, “the headlines [would have been] about Lucas [Bjerregaard’s] win over Tiger and not this shite.”
Westwood’s fellow English pro Chris Paisley added: “I have no idea why Kuch didn’t just ignore it and move on. That’s what myself and 99% of other guys would have done.”
Allowing ‘gimmes’ – which, in itself, must now surely be addressed, lest further such unscrupulousness happen – creates a grey area that is seldom treated as anything other than black and white. Kuchar, instead, saw fifty shades.
Fair enough. That’s his right. By the letter of the law, no rules were broken. But this isn’t about that. It’s about something more. It’s about taking the ultimate of cheap, classless shots – and if there’s one guy who shouldn’t be doing that right now, it’s Kuchar.
The court of public opinion will judge him accordingly.
What a sad, bad state of affairs.
Gimmegate - your thoughts?
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