Golf would be a lot better off without gambling

By Ken Love

For the Mirror

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the federal ban on gambling earlier this week is certain to cause many ripple effects across the sports landscape.

Some of the negative effects certainly include the increased chances of ordinary sports fans spiraling into gambling addiction problems.

Another potential danger is for the integrity of a sports competition itself – especially when public gambling will cause so much more money to be at stake when athletic events are won and lost.

For a sport like golf, the potential is even more dangerous. Golfers, for the most part, compete as individuals, and can personally affect results (especially in a negative manner) without the help of teammates.

If enough money is at stake, the temptation for a struggling tour player to influence their competitive results — in order to obtain a gambling windfall — will be troubling. The concern has become serious enough for the PGA Tour to implement an integrity program for its members.

“We recognize that no sport is fully immune from the potential influence of gambling,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said. “We felt it was important to move forward with an integrity program to further protect our competition from betting related issues.”

Similar sports like tennis have already been plagued by betting-related match-tanking in recent years. Here’s hoping the sport of golf steers clear of gambling issues as sports betting becomes part of every-day life in our country.

Expensive miss

Webb Simpson cruised to an easy win at last week’s Players Champions and won a cool $1.98 million for his four days of work.

That left the rest of the field scrambling for their share of golf’s richest purse, and the golfer in best position was tour-veteran Jason Dufner, who came to the last hole with a great chance to take home the $1.18 million for solo second place – especially after an approach shot to 17 feet.

The fact that Dufner’s birdie attempt slid by the hole was disappointing.

But his next shot – a shaky 3-foot putt that never touched the hole – was shocking and something that would even be hard for a regular, weekend golfer to swallow, let alone a seasoned professional.

In the matter of just a few seconds, Dufner’s potential payoff went from $1.18 million (for second place outright) to $418,000 (tied for fifth). Though his payout was still an enormous amount of money, Dufner’s three-putt resulted in the loss of a whopping $770,000.

I know that I get frustrated when missing a short putt – even if it’s in our little Tuesday Night golf league, but the even-tempered Dufner seemed to take his crazy turn of events in stride.

“I won’t miss it because it was never mine,” Dufner said. “We earn our money each and every week, nothing is given to us until that final hole is completed.”

Mickelson’s shirt

The sport of golf doesn’t usually spark much buzz among fashion-industry experts, but the shirt that Phil Mickelson wore during last week’s Player’s Championship certainly caused a stir.

Mickelson sported a button-down, long-sleeve shirt during the first two rounds of the tournament — an especially curious choice of attire as temperatures climbed into the low 90s during competition.

Mickelson has always marched to the beat of his own drum throughout the years, but his choice of outfits last week caused many fellow pros throw plenty of good-natured jabs his way.

One of the funnier comments, however, came from a member of the gallery who yelled out to Mickelson, “Where’s the board meeting?”

Despite his poor play (79-73, to miss the cut), it will be interesting to see if Mickelson’s long-sleeve, buttoned-down fashion statement catches on.

Ken Love covers local golf for the Mirror. He can be reached at gltr777@atlanticbb.net.

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