Signed, Sealed, Disqualified

Signed, Sealed, Disqualified

Garcia shot 74 which would've left him nine over for the tournament.
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

TULSA, Okla. — I hope Sergio Garcia doesn’t expect any sympathy for his latest blunder. He signed for the wrong score Saturday at the PGA Championship and was disqualified.

Here’s what happened: Boo Weekley, who kept Garcia’s card, mistakenly gave him a par 4 on the 17th hole when Garcia actually made a bogey 5. Garcia signed his card for a 73, which should have been a 74, and was disqualified.

Weekley said later that he realized he’d made a mistake while he was still in the scoring cabin but Garcia was already gone. The Spaniard was in a bad mood, apparently, after three-putting the final hole. Weekley tried to call Garica back but he was already bouncing up the temporary stairs leading to the clubhouse.

He caught up with Garcia later to explain what happened. “He said, ‘That’s the icing on the cake,’ or something,” Weekley said. In other words, Garcia was not happy.

Garcia’s 74 would’ve left him nine over for the tournament and hopelessly out of contention anyway. The good news, if there is any, is that Garcia won’t have to endure another 102-degree day at Southern Hills. The bad news, of course, is that it’s embarrassing.

This mistake serves as a reminder that golf’s scoring system is silly and possibly obsolete. Each group has a walking scorer, there are leaderboards, there are scoring computers. Players don’t even keep their own cards; they keep score for their competitors.

Yet they are still responsible for their own scores, and for checking what their competitor has written down. Yes, the system is an anachronism, but it still works. Garcia should know better.

The game’s history is loaded with scoring blunders. The most famous was Roberto de Vicenzo, who missed out on a playoff with Bob Goalby at the 1968 Masters because Tommy Aaron had written down one of his scores incorrectly.

More recently, Mark Roe and Jesper Parnevik messed up their scorecards at the 2003 British Open. On Saturday, Roe shot 67, which would have put him in third place and in Tiger Woods’s group in the final round. But the players had not exchanged cards before their round, as required. They kept each other’s scores correctly, but they were disqualified for signing the wrong scorecards. In essence, for working on the wrong piece of paper.

There was an outcry that common sense should’ve prevailed in that case, that Roe and Parnevik should have been reinstated. It didn’t happen. Rules officials refused to make an exception to the game’s scoring traditions.

The same goes for Garcia. It is amazing that professionals take a serious duty — signing a correct scorecard — so lightly. Checking the card is a standard part of the game, beginning in junior golf. Weekley made the mistake, but it was Garcia’s fault for not noticing.

In addition to the competitor, official scorers are present to make sure players’ cards are correct, hole by hole, and to make sure players sign their own card and attest their competitor’s. Sometimes those scoring officials are more interested in getting autographs than in doing their jobs.

But it doesn’t matter. Players are responsible for their own scorecards, and they have no one to blame but themselves in case of an error. Factor in the down-home, aw-shucks style of Weekley, who doesn’t pretend to be a Rhodes scholar, and that’s good reason to triple-check the numbers.

Garcia uttered some ridiculous comments after the British Open, blaming unseen forces for his continued bad luck and his inability to win a major. Getting the boot from the PGA Championship wasn’t bad luck, a bad break or unfair.

Garcia was careless, and it was his fault, 100 percent. Sergio had no one to blame for losing the British Open, and he has no excuse at the PGA either.