On the 18th hole at the Web.com Tour’s Bahamas Great Abaco Classic on Wednesday, Rhein Gibson, who was tantalizingly close to forcing a playoff and potentially getting the tournament win, hit a terrible second shot into the drink.
But things went from bad to worse when his caddie, Brandon Davis, picked up the ball, forcing a one-stroke penalty and ultimately leading to Gibson finishing third instead of no worse than second, and possibly first.
Gibson then expressed his displeasure toward his caddie by unscrewing his pommel and ending him rightly:
And with great vengeance and furious anger, Gibson took out his rage at upon learning of his penalty with an act of aggression — throwing the fuzzy head cover of his putter at Davis.
He also fired Davis on the spot.
Gibson did, ultimately, apologize for his actions.
Unfortunately my caddy was involved with a ruling on the 18th that caused me to fall from t2 to 3rd. My actions were less then professional and I apologize to my caddy and those that took offense to my behaviors.
— Rhein Gibson (@RheinGibson55) January 24, 2018
“My actions were less than professional and I apologize to my caddy and those that took offense to my behaviors,” said Gibson, who will clearly view his fuzzy club covers with the reverence accorded to objects that could put someone’s eye out.
Davis, however, defended his actions:
I was his caddy and did nothing wrong, here's the proof:
A.There is no penalty under Rule 18-2 if there was no doubt or it was reasonable to assume from the player's actions or statements that he would make his next stroke from outside the water hazard. https://t.co/W8dQHmAkeK
— Brandon Davis (@bdavistwo) January 25, 2018
Davis claims picking up Gibson’s ball was not actually a violation of Rule 18-2 and that the tournament official misinterpreted the rule when he applied the penalty that got Gibson into such ill temper in the first place.
Wasn't even a penalty…. Rules official screwed up, Decision 26.1/9 states that if it's assumed it won't be played a caddy can pick it up without the players' permission without penalty. We'd already picked our drop spot, we weren't playing it!
— Brandon Davis (@bdavistwo) January 25, 2018
The violation was of Rule 18-2, which states, “Except as permitted by the Rules, when a player’s ball is in play, if the player, his partner or either of their caddies: lifts or moves the ball, touches it purposely (except with a club in the act of addressing the ball), or causes the ball to move, or the equipment of the player or his partner causes the ball to move, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke.
“If the ball is moved, it must be replaced, unless the movement of the ball occurs after the player has begun the stroke or the backward movement of the club for the stroke and the stroke is made.”
However, Decision 26.1/9, part of the section of the rule book governing water hazards, states, “There is no penalty under Rule 18-2 if there was no doubt or it was reasonable to assume from the player’s actions or statements that he would make his next stroke from outside the water hazard.”
As Davis said, “we’d already picked our drop spot.” That means the decision had already been made the shot from the hazard was unplayable and why the official, not the caddie, is at fault here.
And speaking to Gibson directly, Davis tweeted, “Here’s exactly what happened … Ball was dead underneath two rocks and I told you about it and you said ‘f—‘ and turned around stopped looking and walked back to the bag. The tour official actually found the unhittable ball. I then went over and quickly retrieved it. 100% fact.”
It should be noted that Decision 26.1/9 goes on to state, “Any doubt should be resolved against the player,” meaning that unless it was clear and obvious to all involved that the player was invoking the portion of the decision that Davis claims was in play, the penalty must be assessed.
Since the tour official did not call the ball dead and therefore call for the drop, it was a penalty, a bit like those plays in football where everyone stands around thinking the play is over but the ref never blew the whistle and the guy with the ball takes advantage of the chaos to run into the end zone.
In golf, as in football, you have to play to the (figurative) whistle.
The difference between third place and first place might be enough, at the end of the season, to keep Gibson from earning his PGA Tour card, so a little anger is certainly justified, even if the way that anger was expressed is of questionable professionalism.
In any event, next time Brandon Davis carries a player’s clubs on the Web.com tour, it’s a safe bet those clubs won’t belong to Rhein Gibson — and as safe a bet that Davis will find himself quite safe from fuzzy impromptu projectiles.
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