Late Ruling Angers Toledo

By Associated PressOctober 31, 2003, 5:00 pm
PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Esteban Toledo lashed out at Marco Dawson for waiting a day to report an improper drop, which led to Toledo being disqualified from the Funai Classic as he desperately tries to keep his PGA Tour card.
'I think the man has no integrity about the game of golf,' Toledo said Friday.
It was the second time this year that Dawson waited until after the round to report a rules violation, a delay that caused a player to be disqualified.
He defended his actions, saying he thought Toledo's drop looked 'unusual' but didn't think it was a violation until he was rehashing the round later in the day.
'The bottom line is it was a bad drop,' Dawson said. 'And I look like the bad guy.'
Both players missed the cut Friday in the Chrysler Championship at Innisbrook.
Toledo is No. 123 on the PGA Tour money list and could lose his card if Mark Wilson or Olin Browne - Nos. 131 and 132 - finish 41st or better over the weekend.
Dawson and Toledo were paired together the first two rounds last week at Disney. On their final hole at the Palm course in the second round, Toledo hit into a small area marked as ground under repair.
He was supposed to find the nearest point of relief for a free drop, which was to the left of the area. Toledo dropped to the right and played his shot to the green.
Ordinarily, a player would point out a suspected rules violation before his partner signs his card. Once tour officials declared the drop illegal Sunday - a two-stroke penalty - Toledo was disqualified for signing an incorrect card.
Toledo shot a 66 in the second round at Disney.
Had he been assessed the two-stroke penalty, he would have missed the cut by one shot.
Dawson said he went out to the Palm course the following afternoon and called a PGA Tour rules official, who made the determination Sunday morning.
'It's amazing it happened in golf,' Toledo said. 'It kind of put me against the wall. I wasn't very focused this week with the situation.'
Toledo had rounds of 75-73 and missed the cut by three shots at Innisbrook.
Earlier this year in the Chrysler Classic of Tucson, Dawson didn't report an improper drop by Brandel Chamblee until after he signed his card in the second round.
Chamblee was disqualified. At the time, he was tied for third, six strokes out of the lead.
Dawson said he never saw Toledo take the drop at Disney, and that a rules official was never called for clarification, so he assumed Toledo knew what he was doing.
Why did Dawson wait so long to report it?
'At the time, I didn't think it was serious,' he said. 'I just thought to myself, 'Maybe I wouldn't have done it that way.' That's the only question I had - whether my knowledge of the rules was as good as it should have been.'
Dawson had a 30-foot putt on the final hole to make the cut (he missed), and went back to his game. Only when he was driving home and going over his round did he start to consider Toledo's drop.
Dawson said he went back to the Palm course the next day to review the situation, called Toledo, then a rules official. The ruling was made Sunday morning.
Players have been talking about the incident throughout the week, especially since it was the second this year Dawson had waited to report a violation.
Asked whether he thought his image would suffer, Dawson replied, 'What's more important? Your image or doing the right thing?'
Toledo was more upset that Dawson waited so long.
Toledo said they talked Wednesday night, but that Dawson never apologized.
'I don't think he's man enough to say that,' Toledo said.
Toledo, a 41-year-old from Mexico who grew up in a house with dirt floors and no indoor plumbing, is in his seventh year on the PGA Tour.
He left the Copperhead course at Innisbrook realizing he might not have full playing rights on the PGA Tour next year if he falls out of the top 125.
'I'd like to finish 126 with honor than finish 125 with a lie,' Toledo said.
Related Links:
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  • Full Coverage - Chrysler Championship
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