Honesty costs golfer U.S. Open spot

Jun. 10, 2014 @ 07:47 PM

A fair bit of sportsmanship removed a potential contestant from this week’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.

Jason Millard, who was a two-time All-American at Middle Tennessee State University, called a penalty on himself five days after the fact, which disqualified him.

Millard has been replaced by Sam Love, an amateur who just completed his senior season at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

This past Tuesday, Millard said he grounded his club in a bunker on the 18th hole of Colonial Country Club in Memphis, Tennessee, his 27th hole of the day.

“I didn’t see anything for sure but I felt something and I saw a small indentation,” he said, according to a USGA press release. “I didn’t see anything for sure, but I felt something and I saw a small indentation.”

He said that he didn’t report the grounding at first because he wasn’t 100 percent sure, but after five days of practicing, it was still bothering him.

“I really don’t know 100 percent but deep down, I believe I did,” Millard said. “I couldn’t find peace about it. For five days, I practiced and I couldn’t get it off my mind.”

After he reported the self-imposed penalty, he was disqualified.

“We commend Jason for bringing this matter to our attention,” said Daniel B. Burton, USGA vice president and chairman of the Championship Committee. “At this time, we have no recourse but to disqualify him under the Rules of Golf and specifically Rule 34-1b.”

Rule 34-1b, part iii, states that “a penalty of disqualification must be imposed after the competition has closed if a competitor … returned a score for any hole lower than actually taken for any reason other than failure to include a penalty that, before the competition closed, he did not know he had incurred.”

Millard, who played in this year’s Honda Classic but missed the cut, qualified after shooting a pair of 68s in Memphis. Love, who shot 68-69, was the second alternate from that qualifier and will compete in his first U.S. Open.

“It’s heartbreaking, but what I was feeling in my heart didn’t feel right,” Millard said. “It’s the right decision and I am sticking with it.”