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The PGA Tour might need an NFL referee for this Sunday pairing at Pebble Beach

February 13, 2021

Joel Dahmen of the United States plays his shot from the third tee during the third round of the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

Hector Vivas

They’re just two dudes playing at Pebble Beach on a Sunday. Nothing to see here really. If there were fans at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the pairing of Joel Dahmen and Sung Kang (along with C.T. Pan)—starting way out on the 10th tee for the fourth round, no less—wouldn’t attract even the seagulls, unless this threesome were throwing out pieces of Boudin sourdough.

But this is, for those who relish rules calls and their sometimes-juicy aftermath, one of the great pairings of combatants, Dahmen and Kang, who saw things very differently on a Sunday in July 2018 at the Quicken Loans National. And, apparently, at least one of them has not forgotten it.

On Saturday afternoon at Pebble Beach, when the pairings for Sunday were released, Dahmen tweeted this:

This wasn't a tip of the cap to C.T. Pan (no disrespect intended). No, this is Dahmen clearly taking only a slightly subtle pre-emptive strike at Kang, whom he outright said “cheated” on a drop Kang took after hitting a shot into a hazard at the Quicken. Dahmen’s charge produced enough of a controversy that the PGA Tour and Kang issued their own statements the following day.

If you think Patrick Reed’s embedded-ball situation last month at Torrey Pines got heated and sticky, the Dahmen-Kang dust-up is more personal, in the sense that one player was truly calling out another for cheating. That just doesn't happen much.

Dahmen took issue with where Kang chose to take a drop, believing that Kang picked a spot much closer to the hole than where his ball crossed the hazard before going in. The debate between the players and the rules official went on so long—an estimated 25 minutes—that the group behind them had to play through—another wild rarity.

Asked about it later by someone on Twitter, Dahmen’s first response was: “Kang cheated. He took a bad drop from a hazard. I argued until I was blue. I lost.”

Sung Kang of Korea plays the 13th green during the second round of the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Gregory Shamus

Kang ended up saving par on the hole, shot 64 and finished solo third. Dahmen scored 71 and tied for 23rd. Was there some steam gathering under Dahmen's signature bucket hat? Probably could have cooked a small lobster in there.

The PGA Tour released this statement about the incident:

“During Sunday’s final round of the 2018 Quicken Loans National, there was a discussion between fellow competitors Sung Kang and Joel Dahmen as to where Kang’s second shot crossed the margin of the lateral hazard at the par-5 10th hole before ultimately coming to rest in the hazard.

“A PGA Tour Rules Official handled the ruling, interviewing both players, caddies and marshals in the vicinity. The official then took Kang back to where he hit his second shot, and Kang confirmed his original belief that his shot had indeed crossed the margin of the hazard. With no clear evidence to prove otherwise, it was determined by the official that Kang could proceed with his fourth shot as intended, following a penalty stroke and subsequent drop. The PGA Tour will have no additional comment on this matter.”

Kang’s representatives also had their own statement distributed by the tour:

“[Kang] is standing by the ruling that was made by PGA Tour Rules officials on Sunday and will have no further comment, other than he is looking forward to focusing on finishing out the season strong, and he is excited about the opportunity to play in The Open Championship again in a few weeks.”

Do you think C.T. Pan owns a whistle and a golf shirt with black-and-white stripes?