PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Zac Blair arrived at TPC Sawgrass with a new putter and several more Twitter followers.
That was to be expected after what happened last Friday at Quail Hollow, where he was disqualified for using a non-conforming club.
How his club became damaged was the interesting part – Blair said that after missing a 5-foot putt, he whacked himself in the head with the putter shaft, causing it to bend slightly.
“It wasn’t overly hard,” he said Wednesday, “but it was hard enough to do something. It wasn't that big of a deal.”
Blair sought out a rules official on the next hole and told him what happened. Because he had tapped in his next putt on the previous green with the damaged club, he was disqualified.
Later that day, Blair tweeted an explanation and an apology. Then he posted a GIF of the infamous Woody Austin clip from 1997, when he repeatedly smacked his putter against the side of his head.
“That turned out to probably be a mistake,” Blair said. “After that, it just blew up and went crazy and everybody got ahold of it. So many people thought that was me.”
Blair seemed to laugh off the incident, sending out explanations, retweeting website stories and posting pictures of his head to show that he hadn’t injured himself.
“It was about 60-40,” he said of the reaction. “I got a lot of positive feedback, with people saying that I owned up to it and moved past it. Then there was the other group that was saying that it was cool that I turned myself in and had the integrity to do that. And then there were obviously a few out there that didn’t understand the whole thing.”
It’s been a frustrating stretch for Blair, who finished third at the Sony Open, the first full-field event of the calendar year, but doesn’t have a top-25 since. If there’s an upside here, it’s that, unlike Austin’s viral clip, no video exists of his incident. Not that there would have been much to see, anyway.
“Mine wasn’t anything like that,” he said. “If mine would have been on video, it definitely wouldn’t have been the story it was.”