To my Fans and to Followers of Golf,
I would like to share with you what happened on the 18th hole at the WGC Cadillac Match Play in San Francisco, during the match between Keegan Bradley and I last week. Undoubtedly, it was neither an appropriate image for the game of golf nor for either of us as Professionals. It is always said that golf is a sport of gentlemen, but in that instance, the image of the sport was perhaps not upheld.
As you may have seen on the video, I approached Keegan after he had dropped his ball and then placed it on the spot where it had bounced onto the road. I had the impression that the ball had not rolled more than two club lengths (as the rule states), lying just on the edge of the road. I doubted whether it could be an incorrect drop, therefore, I approached Keegan as the rules allow in Match Play, to express my opinion to him and also to the referee who was already there, with the only intention of knowing why the referee had made this decision and to verify that the drop was correct.
Keegan was very agitated and told me to go away and that it was none of my business, as the referee was already present. I kept trying to express my opinion, I repeat, as the rules allow me to, while he, became increasingly agitated and insisted that I should go away. Steve Hale, his caddie, who was even more upset, approached me and started talking to me very loudly - almost shouting, and certainly in a bad way, and I told him to shut up. Then, Keegan approached me, shouting “Don’t tell my caddie to shut up”. I continued to try to express my opinion to the Referee, in order to let him know my impression and doubt regarding the drop. There was nothing more to it than that.
I would like to clarify some aspects of golf and the category of Match Play.
- Being sportsmen and competitors, we owe each other respect and courtesy, and for this reason, we must listen to each other’s observations when we are allowed to express them; therefore, a situation like this should have never taken place.
- In Match Play, the fellow competitor has the right to express himself and is entitled to know the different circumstances that could affect his opponent.
- In relation to the caddies, I would like to point out that they do a fantastic and very necessary job on the course, being of great help to us; nevertheless, there are at times situations in which the players should sort out any problems themselves.
- Sometimes we find ourselves in very tense situations as professional sportsmen. Although the match between Keegan and I was a very tight one, our composure should have been maintained.
Last but not least, I want to finish by emphasising that Keegan is a great player, a Major Winner, and he will always have my respect.
Miguel Ángel Jiménez