Skip to main content

PGA Tour Defends Suspending Fuzzy Zoeller

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. ' PGA Tour officials Saturday defended their decision to disqualify Fuzzy Zoeller for a rules violation following the opening round of the Royal Caribbean Classic.
Zoeller was disqualified Friday for hitting practice shots on the Crandon Park Golf Course after his first-round 73. Zoeller agreed to give a lesson to a local television reporter, and because the practice range was full, decided to use the vacant sixth tee.
As soon as he hit his demonstration first shot, Zoeller was in violation of Rule 7-1-b, which prohibits practicing on the tournament course between rounds.
Although Zoeller didn't argue, officials Saturday tried to head off any grumbling among players that perhaps the rule should have been overlooked because the violation seemed insignificant.
``This has been a firestorm,'' said Gene Smith, the Champions Tour's tournament director. ``It's not like we've never had to disqualify a player before. It happens.''
Golfer Hubert Green, a friend of Zoeller's, was upset after his round Saturday and thought the rule could be appealed.
``There was no appeal, and there is no appeal,'' Smith said. ``The decision is final. There's nowhere for anybody to go with it. There is no leeway. It's black and white. If you hit a shot on the course between rounds, it's a violation and you will be disqualified.''
The timing of the disqualification was odd because the Champions Tour, formerly known as the Senior Tour, has introduced a series of fan-friendly initiatives this year.
Zoeller said he thought the taping was OK and approved by tournament officials.
``I wish a light bulb would have gone off in Fuzzy's head when that cameraman asked him to hit that shot,'' Smith said. ``This was not one of our fan enhancements. This was set up by somebody else. Fuzzy might have thought he had approval, but he didn't have it from us.''