‘Sad little man:’ European Tour players trade insults over cheating incident

January 16, 2019

After Wednesday’s opening round at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, European Tour player Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano took to Twitter to comment on the day, his first competitive round under golf’s new rules. But he included a reference to Simon Dyson, another European pro who was fined and suspended for illegally tapping down spike marks in 2013.

“First competitive round of the year on @EuropeanTour with the new rules on effect,” Fernandez-Castano wrote on Twitter after his opening-round 72. “Tapping down spikemarks felt so weird, it will take some time to get used to it – Unless you are Simon Dyson and you have been doing it for years.”

A follower suggested that Fernandez-Castano tag Dyson in the post, to which he replied that Dyson had blocked him, making a tag impossible.

But Dyson didn’t take kindly to the slight. “He hasn’t got the f—– balls!!! Sad little man,” he wrote in a tweet that was later deleted. He followed up with several more, though he insisted he wasn’t going to get further involved.

An old tweet from Fernandez-Castano makes it clear this is a beef that goes back years. “Used to like him, not anymore,” he wrote of Dyson in 2014.

Fernandez-Castano opened with an even-par 72 in Abu Dhabi. His shot at Dyson referenced a 2013 incident at the BMW Masters in Shanghai. Dyson, the tournament co-leader, was caught on video using his ball to press down a spike mark on the green in direct line of his short par putt. After reviewing the footage, he was disqualified from the event, which Fernandez-Castano went on to win.

Later, Dyson attended a hearing at which he was found guilty of a “serious breach” of the tour’s code of behavior. He was fined $49,000 and suspended for two months, though the suspension was deferred for an 18-month probationary period. Dyson released a statement denying that he was deliberately attempting to break the rules. In subsequent interviews, he called the fallout from the incident “the worst moment of my career.”