D.A. Points was in the bathroom at Spanish Bay just before 6 p.m. PT on Friday, changing out of his golf clothes and preparing for dinner with his family, when he received a call from Mark Russell, the vice president of rules and competitions for the PGA Tour.
This was no friendly phone call. More than three hours after Points had finished a rain-soaked round of 3-over 75 at Pebble Beach, Russell was calling to inform the 2011 champion he’d been disqualified from the tournament.
While enduring what Points called a “15- 20-minute wait” on the iconic par-5 final hole, during which he and pro-am partner Condoleezza Rice even had time to snap a few photographs, Points pulled from his bag a spongy green ball he had been given by instructor Grant Waite a few weeks previously. Points placed the ball under his right arm to emulate a few swings. The act was caught on video by a spectator and the player was found in violation of Rule 14-3. The ensuing result was disqualification.
“We were standing on the tee; it’s cold, it’s raining,” Points explained to GolfChannel.com via phone. “I pull out the ball and make some dry practice swings, just trying to loosen up. I come to find out it’s an unusual training device, something you wouldn’t have in your bag.”
Had he instead used a headcover, towel or glove, Points wouldn’t have been in violation of the rule. Instead, it’s the fact that the spongy green ball doesn’t always reside in his golf bag that led to the violation.
Even nearly two hours after the ruling, he still sounded shellshocked.
“It’s my fault for not knowing the rule and I own up to that,” he said. “But I don’t want people thinking I was using some sort of contraption or device. It’s just a green spongy ball. That’s it. It’s not something they sell online or anything.”
When Russell told Points they needed to discuss what happened on 18, the player initially didn’t even think of the spongy ball. Points explained that he hit his first tee shot out of bounds, reteed and wound up getting up and down to save bogey.
He never considered the fact he had broken Rule 14-3.
“I said, ‘Is that an issue?’ He said, ‘Yeah, it’s an issue,’” Points relayed. “I accept what I did was wrong, but it wasn’t intentional.”
The disqualification was a double whammy for Points. Because he didn’t know about the violation within 30 minutes after his round was completed, he wasn’t able to register for next week’s tournament, the Northern Trust Open. Had he known earlier, he would have entered himself in the field.
“I’m playing well,” said Points, who had been in a share of 60th place. “I didn’t have that amount of time to commit.”
Actually, make it a triple whammy. At 75th in the Official World Golf Ranking – and with at least three players already skipping the upcoming WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship – he had an outside chance to have a strong finish and qualify for that event.
“I needed a good week,” he sighed, “but it was certainly not out of my grasp.”
Points does, interestingly, remain eligible for the pro-am portion of this week’s tournament. He explained that he still intends to compete with Rice at Spyglass Hill on Saturday.
“It’s still an opportunity to play with her,” he said. “If maybe I can have a hot round and Condoleezza can play great, maybe I can help her move further up in the tournament.”