A bizarre rules mishap involving a shuttle ride might have just cost a tour pro his job on the Korn Ferry Tour
In golf, rules are rules, even if they seem random or arbitrary. Korn Ferry Tour rookie Wilson Furr understands this, but even more frustratingly so after a seemingly innocuous mistake on Friday during the second round of the Lecom Suncoast Classic might have cost the former All-American at Alabama future starts on the developmental circuit.
Furr, 24, was playing in a threesome in the afternoon wave at Lakewood National Golf Club in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., along with Alejandro Tosti and Mason Andersen. The trio started its round on the 10th hole, and as the players finished the 18th hole, they walked through a tunnel under a grandstand where they noticed a volunteer sitting in the driver’s seat of an empty three-rowed golf cart. It was the same type of vehicle that took the players from the driving range to the 10th tee.
According to reports from Monday Q Info’s Ryan French and from GolfChannel.com, Tosti asked the volunteer if he was shuttling players to the first tee. The driver told him yes, but in actuality he was not authorized to take players between the 18th green and first tee. The tournament was being played under a Model Local Rule that stated players and caddies could not take transportation during a round, except in instances of stroke and distance penalties. A supplemental rules sheet did make one exception, however, allowing transportation between the seventh green and the eighth tee. A Korn Ferry Tour official told French the cart was there because it had stopped while the players putted.
“I asked the guy, ‘Are you giving rides to the first tee?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, jump in,’” Tosti told GolfChannel.com. “I know that I cannot jump in a cart that is not official, but this was almost like organized. It almost seemed like someone sent this guy to give us a ride. It was ready, waiting for us to walk off the green and give us a ride to the first tee, and that guy apparently was not supposed to be there.”
On the fourth hole, a rules official approached the players and asked them about the ride, informing them that it was not authorized as noted on the rules sheets, which were posted in player dining, on the range and on both starter’s boxes. At the end of the round, all three players were assessed a two-stroke penalty for violating the MLR.
The additional two shots were relatively inconsequential for Andersen; he was already well off the cutline. Tosti fell from 10 under to eight under for the tournament, and is eight shots off the lead to start the third round.
For Furr, however, it cost him the chance to play on the weekend. Instead of posting a four-under 67, he shot a second straight 69 and missed the cut by two shots.
Making matters worse, this was Furr’s eighth and last guaranteed start on the KFT after he earned conditional status at last fall’s Q school. In his seven previous starts, he had made three cuts but his best finish was only a T-54. He entered the week 148th on the Korn Ferry Tour points list and needed a good performance to improve enough to assure more starts when the tour reshuffled the players' priority rankings after this tournament.
Given his status on the points list, Furr is unlikely to get into any other KFT events this season unless he Monday qualifies, receives a sponsor’s exemption or gets a spot off the alternate list.
“This sucks,” Furr told GolfChannel.com. “There’s no way around it. It just sucks. To start the day, probably one of the bigger rounds I’ve played in my career, and I knew it, and for this to happen then, just ugh.”
On Saturday morning, Monday Q tweeted that another group was penalized for using the cart, and Boo Weekley missed playing on the weekend because of it. The other players in his threesome were Ashton Van Horne and Jared Wolfe.
According to a report on GolfChannel.com, Tosti and Furr both said they did not read the specific rule. Furr told GolfChannel.com that because the ride from the 18th green to the first tee was longer than the ride from the driving range to the first tee, “It wasn’t crazy for me to think there was supposed to be a shuttle there.”
“At the end of the day, we are responsible,” Tosti told GolfChannel.com. “But this was very, very strange. We were pretty much set up to get a ride from hole 18 to the first tee. Everything was very unusual. I tried to make sure that that ride was official … and the guy sounded so sure, he’s waiting for us, and it kind of makes sense that he’s giving rides to the first tee because you have to go all around the clubhouse and it’s a long walk.”
While all three players adamantly tried to plead their case to the rules official, the decision had been made.
“We let them hear it,” Furr said. “But after hearing the exact same response seven different ways, I just left. We weren’t getting anywhere. The guy’s word was final. I just wonder, is there no discretion?"
Apparently, rules are rules.