One ball. That is what costed a man of a PGA Tour tournament spot. One ball.
The year was 2008, and PGA golfer J.P. Hayes was playing in the qualifying tournament for the 2009 PGA Tour.
Hayes had just finished the second round with a score of 71. He was doing well and was on the way to make the PGA Tour. After working hard that day, he came back to his hotel room.
Soon, something caught Hayes’ eye — a prototype ball that Titlleist had sent him to use for testing. In his excellent golfers memory, he remembered using the same ball at one point in that day. He was not sure if it was on the USGA’s list of approved balls. Regardless, he contacted a Tour official who told him that he would have to disqualify himself.
What a heartbreaker.
Here is what happened according to the PGA Tour Website:
-Stated on PGA Tour Website
“Hayes was playing in last week’s second-stage qualifier at Deerwood Country Club in Kingwood, Texas. He had just played a full wedge shot into the 11th hole, so as his custom, he took that ball out of play on the 12th tee, a par-3. His caddie threw him a new ball and he hit a tee shot that missed the green before chipping on. When he marked his ball, he realized it was not the same model ball with which he started the round.”
It wasn’t even his fault. His caddy handed him the wrong ball and he just picked up where he had left off in the tournament (no pun intended). What’s even more frustrating is that he only used the ball for two strokes. Just two strokes. It must have been so tempting to just forget about the mistake because that is what plenty of players would have done.
But Hayes is different than most PGA Golfers.
When asked by ABC News why he reported the problem citing that no one would have known because the event was not filmed, J.P. Hayes responded:
“No one would have known, but I knew. And I have some people looking down on me that would have known, so that was the decision I had to make.”
In a world of athletes cheating by deflating footballs and filming other teams illegally, selling playbooks, and taking performance-enhancing drugs, it is an honor to still have athletes choosing to do the right thing.
J.P. Hayes lost a whole year of the PGA Tour due to his caddy’s mistake. He could have forgotten about it. He could have blamed his caddy for everything. But he chose a different path — the path less traveled by. The media and some of his colleagues mocked him for doing the right thing and choosing integrity over success.
But in this situation Hayes has shown that the greatest success in life is not in tangible things. It is the commitment to integrity, regardless of any circumstance.