He sure acted like a winner

Golfer lost a tournament purse, but his integrity is priceless

 

 

Remember the time the baseball player admitted he missed third base and cost his team a World Series title?

Or the time the football player admitted he stepped out of bounds, and cost his team the Super Bowl?

Of course not. Those things never happened, and never will. Quite to the contrary, if a baseball or football player can fool an umpire or referee into believing he caught a ball when he really didn't, he'll do it. You see it all the time.

But pro golfer Brian Davis on Sunday called a violation on himself that might have cost him the million-dollar winner's purse at the Verizon Heritage tournament in Hilton Head Island, S.C.

No one else might ever have noticed, but Davis' backswing brushed up against a reed in a marshy hazard area at the oceanside 18th hole during his playoff with co-leader Jim Furyk -- essentially calling a two-stroke penalty on himself and possibly costing himself the win; the $385,000 differential between first and second place; and a spot in next year's Masters Tournament.

Unbelievable.

Davis personally, and the game of golf by extension, exhibited more integrity in that single act of courage and honor than just about any other sport could ever aspire to. And he established for all the world to see that the price of a soul isn't anything close to $385,000.

"A supreme act of sportsmanship," is how The Times of London characterized it. "Brian Davis lost a tournament -- and upwards of a million dollars -- but won the respect of the golfing world."

They're right -- except that the respect will surely stretch far beyond the golfing world. Every young athlete should be told of Davis' indomitable integrity.

Maybe the old adage is right: It's not whether you win or lose; it's how you play the game.

Such a sentiment seems hopelessly quaint in these days of winning-is-everything sports. But golf is supposed to be a gentleman's game.

Brian Davis thinks so, anyway.

"I want to win a PGA Tour event more than just about anything," says Davis, a 35-year-old Englishman who has never won a tournament in the United States, "but I play by the rules and no victory would be worthwhile if it had a cloud hanging over it."

One of those things they never quite get around to telling you in school is that doing the right thing quite often entails hurting yourself, or at least your own perceived self-interest.

Brian Davis proved Sunday that in the end, it's worth it.

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