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Saturday, September 20, 2014
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Published: Friday, 7/25/2003

Stiff upper lip, blokes

Duffers everywhere experienced some bittersweet moments at last weekend's 2003 British Open in Sandwich, England.

Britain's Mark Roe and Sweden's Jesper Parnevik were disqualified in the third round for not properly exchanging scorecards. Rules are rules, and the officials of the Royal and Ancient, responsible for those rules in Britain, must enforce them. Still, maybe some revisions are in order.

The R&A rule requires competitors to trade scorecards at the start of the round. Roe and Parnevik didn't, and at the end of the day each signed the wrong card. The rule was originally designed to keep players honest, but, as Parnevik pointed out, it would be awfully difficult to shave a few strokes with the world watching.

The two players accepted the decision as graciously as they possibly could. Parnevik called the rule unfair and dumb. Roe managed to joke, despite the pain he clearly felt, that he had been distracted by Parnevik's brilliant blue pants. Roe would have been in a tie for third place going into the final round. He had shot a four-under 67 - the low score for the week and arguably one of the best rounds of his life.

It was an honest, though costly, mistake.

It is the players' responsibility to abide by the rules, as unforgiving as they sometimes seem.

The R&A is standing firm on the disqualifications, but on Monday waived a condition that would prohibit the players from receiving any prize money. Roe and Parnevik will share, as consolation, last place. And the R&A has rightly indicated it will review scoring procedures before next year's open at Royal Troon. The officials also have an opportunity to fashion other revisions that take into account modern day realities, all the while maintaining the game's rich traditions.

Sunday afternoon at Royal St. George's was another, brighter, story. Ohioan Ben Curtis grabbed the spotlight and shocked the field with his one-under-par victory in what was his first major tournament.

Fourth-round leader Thomas Bjorn stumbled in the final four holes and contenders Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods, and Davis Love III also fell short, handing Curtis the win. The 26-year-old out of Kent State, in his first year on the PGA Tour, soared from 396th to 35th in the rankings.

The rookie's stunning performance was good news for every hacker who hits that one sweet shot and, until the next one anyway, believes that anything's possible.



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