Purdy Enters Houston a Little Shell-Shocked

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For many journeyman professionals there seems to be one ' and only one ' real, solid opportunity to claim a PGA Tour title.
 
Some are able to take advantage of that rare opportunity. Todd Hamilton did so at this years Honda Classic. And while he may have another chance to play the final few holes of a tour event in serious contention, if he doesnt, at least he got his One.
 
The tour record book is littered with one-time winners. But a far more populated group is one filled with the unfulfilled ' those who came close ' very, very close ' but just couldnt get it done.
 
Ted Purdy came close ' very, very close ' to winning last weeks MCI Heritage. He had a four-stroke lead entering the final round. He had a 10-foot birdie putt to win on the final hole of regulation and missed it. Strike One. He had a 15-foot birdie putt to win on the first hole of a playoff with Stewart Cink and missed it. Strike Two.
 
And when Cink, on the fifth hole of sudden death, knocked an L-wedge from a waste area to 6 feet and then converted the putt, it was Strike Three.
 
But, in baseball terms, that was a called third strike ' one based on interpretation, Purdy believes. And Purdy, who is competing in this weeks Shell Houston Open, is still not happy with the call.
 
Cink was given permission, under the rules of golf, by Slugger White, the PGA Tour tournament director and referee in chief, to move loose impediments in the waste area.
 
And Cink did just that, picking up a number of items behind his ball. But during the television broadcast it showed that Cink used his right index finger to swipe away the area behind his ball, seemingly improving his lie.
 
Several viewers noticed this; and as many are wont to do, many called in to complain.
 
So White grabbed Cink, after he already had accepted the tartan jacket at the champions ceremony, and the two reviewed the incident. White concluded all was well and the matter appeared over.
 
Purdy graciously accepted defeat, but it wasnt until the following day that he got a chance to see exactly what transpired on the 16th, the hole in question.
 
When I saw the video tape on Monday morning ' I wasnt privy to it Sunday night ' it just made my gut sink, Purdy told The Golf Channel.
 
I wish I had interpreted the rules that way when I was in the waste area on 15.
 
On the par-4 15th in regulation, Purdy was positioned in a similar waste area, just 70 yards from the hole, and was unable to advance his ball to the green. He made a costly bogey.
 
If I had interpreted the rules the way Stewart had, I would have drawn a line under my ball and hit the ball cleanly and knocked it on the green and, at worst, made par in regulation, Purdy said.
 
Purdy said he harbors no ill will towards Cink, whom he calls a friend, but said, even days removed from the incident, he is still unsatisfied with the manner in which things transpired.
 
Im upset with the interpretation of that rule by the tour ' the tour official, Purdy said. They are there to protect me and to protect the field, obviously, but I was the field because it was a playoff.
 
He wasnt individually picking shells or anything, he was sweeping the sand ' sand is not a loose impediment ' sweeping the sand behind the ball to improve his lie.
 
I dont think Stewarts interpretation of how you can move loose impediments was correct.
 
Tour officials, however, disagree. Dodgy, as CBS commentator Peter Oosterhuis described it, perhaps, but, correct by tour rules.
 
Wednesday, tournament official Jon Brendle addressed the matter on The Golf Channels Sprint Pre Game show.
 
It's an area that has a gray area to it. It's all loose impediment, Brendle said, noting that the waste area is not comprised of sand, but of crushed coral.
 
'If you were in pine straw or on a gravel road, where you weren't going to take a drop, you're allowed to sweep. It's all loose impediments. It doesn't say how you have to take them away. If you have a pile of acorns behind your ball, you can sweep them away.
 
'You're improving your lie, but the rules allow you to improve your lie by moving loose impediments.'
 
Cink told The Golf Channel Wednesday that he asked White what the rules were to avoid such a controversy. He added that he didn't want to get into a verbal shouting match and that even though he is uncomfortable with the negative attention that this matter is drawing, he believes he was in the right.
 
He addressed the matter fully after his victory.
 
We went to the video and with the PGA Tour official we determined that I did everything within the rules, Cink said Sunday.
 
The first thing I did (before hitting the shot) was to go to Slugger White, who was with the playoff. I asked him what I could do, what I couldn't do. Am I allowed to move this or not, or am I not allowed. He told me exactly what I was allowed to move, and I did what I was told I could do. And he was right, I was right, and we looked at it and that's fine.
 
Cink described his shot as unbelievable, and that he couldnt replicate it if given a hundred tries. Purdy thought the same thing ' at the time.
 
In the playoff, I thought he had just hit the most amazing shot of all time, Purdy said. But then once I saw it on tape, I thought: I could have hit that, too.
 
Hopefully, for his sake, Purdy will get another opportunity to win a tour event. If not this week, then down the road.
 
I need to get back into this position, he said Sunday night. And I'm playing well enough to go win next week.
 
The $518,400 he earned at Harbour Town was enough to secure his tour card for next season. He can take some solace in that. But for a 30-year-old journeyman professional, one who has one top-10 finish in 41 career starts on tour, he knows opportunities like the one he had last week dont come very often.
 
Thats what makes this matter all-the-more irritating.
 
Its a closed issue for me, because the tours made it a closed issue, he said.
 
Theres no recourse. Whats happened happened. Nothings going to come from this. Its just frustrating.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Shell Houston Open