A 16-year-old sectional qualifier didn’t get to finish playing for one of four spots in next week’s U.S. Open at the Rockville, Maryland site because USGA officials deemed him to have not “promptly returned” to the scoring area following the completion of his first 18 holes.
Skyler Fox, a Pittsburgh-area high schooler who has won three consecutive individual state titles, advanced out of U.S. Open local qualifying with 1-under par 70 at Beechwood Country Club outside of Cleveland, Ohio on May 7. On Monday, he was disqualified from the sectional qualifier.
Fox told Golfweek.com’s Andy Kostka that after shooting a 6-over par 78 in the first round of the 36-hole qualifier, he immediately ran to his car to retrieve some medicine for a painful headache he had been playing through. On his way back to the scoring area, Fox stopped in a bathroom only to find out that when he went to turn in his scorecard, he had been disqualified.
“They told me I was disqualified because I didn’t get to the scoring table in time, which made no sense,” Fox said. “I was pretty upset. I mean, there was a good chance I wasn’t going to make it (to the U.S. Open). I was going to have to shoot really low. But I wanted to go out there and put a respectable score up.”
“It wasn’t like he was winning the thing. So, would it have really killed you to let him finish?”https://t.co/PqDDkQjclt
— Andy Kostka (@afkostka) June 6, 2019
According to a USGA spokesperson, Fox was disqualified under Rule 3.3b(2), which states a player must “promptly return” a scorecard to the scorer’s table upon the completion of a round. Brian DePasquale, manager of championship communications for the USGA, said Fox “went to lunch and did not enter the scoring area until the following group had returned their cards,” a claim Fox and his father, Joe, patently deny.
“The kid had to go to the bathroom,” Joe Fox said. “He said he couldn’t wait. What do you do? You gotta go, you gotta go, unfortunately. It wasn’t like he was winning the thing. So, would it have really killed you to let him finish?”
Fox said that when he reached the scoring area some 10 minutes after the completion of the round, the other two members of his group were just leaving and the group behind them hadn’t reach the 18th green yet.
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When he did get to the scoring area, Craig Winter, USGA Senior Director of Rules of Golf and Amateur Status, reported that no mention of the headache and the “NC,” or “no card” designation for Fox resulted in a disqualification.
“That would have changed the calculus of what this whole situation looked like significantly,” Winter said of Fox’s headache claim. “It’s well established in the rule that players, should they become suddenly ill, have time to figure out, recuperate, see if they can continue. And that’s no different if you just started your round or you’re returning to scoring.”
Regardless, Fox wasn’t able to play his second 18 holes at Rockville.
“With no disrespect to my son, I didn’t really figure he was going to qualify,” Joe Fox said. “But I knew he would be kind of in the mix, he probably would’ve been mid-pack, and for a 16-year-old, that’s a lot to be said. So, it was interesting. But you’ve got to take life’s bumps as they come, I guess.”
As for the younger Fox, he’s handling the DQ as a lesson learned.
“This is basically just a lesson,” Skyler Fox said. “And, obviously, I’ll probably never do it again.”