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There are few words an athlete wants to be called less than a quitter.
Being labeled a cheat means your career will never be the same, but a quitter? That means you got to a point in a tournament and decided you’d had enough before it was over.
Quitting is the newest trend on the PGA Tour and it has becoming a serious problem. Some of the biggest names in the game have decided if they have a bad round of golf, instead of toughing it out and seeing what type of character they might build, they’d rather leave early, hop on the private jet and head elsewhere instead of living up to their obligations.
Some of the biggest names in the game have taken to the two-letter excuse this season, and I would point each out by name but who knows who was really hurt and who just left because they had a bad day.
It has become such a problem that Billy Horschel took to Twitter to let everyone know how he felt about the latest trend.
@NoLayingUp... I guess I should have WD last week after shooting 80. Seems like the new fad on tour! haha
— Billy Horschel (@BillyHo_Golf) April 3, 2014
— Billy Horschel (@BillyHo_Golf) April 4, 2014
Quitting isn’t acceptable. It isn’t. You can’t commit to a tournament and have thousands of fans buy tickets only to leave because you had a bad day.
Golf is hard. There will be plenty of bad days. Sticking it out will mean more to you in the long run than going home early to sit in your mansion and play with your Google Glass.
If you're hurt, or hurt yourself on the course, by all means get out of there before you hurt yourself more, but you're telling me these superstar athletes are injuring themselves weekly and it seems to only happen when their rounds start to balloon?
Years ago when I was playing junior golf I was invited to the AJGA Robert Trent Jones Jr. Invitational. It was a big deal for me and a chance to further prove that I was a “somebody” in the junior golf circuit. The course was a few hours from my East Texas home and I made the same drive with my parents that so many junior golf families take to event after event. The weather was horrible, the fairways were so soaked they hadn’t been cut in days and after an opening nine 37, my tournament went to shreds.
The rounds took forever, I had no chance of carding a top-25 or top-10 and after long talks with my dad, a man as dependable as a sunrise, I decided to withdraw and go home early.
To this day it is one of those big golf decisions I regret. I told myself I wouldn’t do it again. Even as a kid I realized it was a weak way out of a bad situation.
Years later, in college, I remember firing some ridiculously high number in the opening round of an U.S. Amateur qualifier. Usually those go 36 holes, and if you ever look at a sheet of scores you’ll see dozens and dozens of guys that quit after 18, but I decided to stick it out because I had signed up and I remembered those days back in junior golf.
I remembered my mistake.
The second round ended with something around even par, way better than the first round but still not even close to what was expected to get into the tournament. I remember my dad telling me how proud he was of me for playing, and finishing, and I even got some respect from a playing partner that had really gone low both rounds and had a legit chance of getting into the USGA championship.
This isn't a story of my nobility. I've done plenty of stupid stuff on the golf course, thrown plenty of golf clubs and had a lot of rounds I let get away because I was frustrated, but the point is realizing what you've done and changing it.
Quitting is easy in golf. Unlike basketball or baseball or football, a bad opening round can doom you for the week. A wise man once said that you can’t win a golf tournament on Thursday but you can sure lose one, and those words hold true at every golf event across the country.
But the trend isn’t acceptable for our pros. The PGA Tour needs to do something about this. They need to make sure these players can’t just leave when the things go bad.
It might not make sense to a millionaire that has everything he has ever wanted and more, but sometimes you learn the most about yourself when you grit out a bad day. You learn about your character, your golf game and what you really can do when the going gets tough.
These are the types of lesson you can lean on when you’re leading the U.S. Open on a Sunday and start out bogey-bogey-bogey or hit a shot out of bounds with a three-shot lead on the 72nd hole.
It’s the bad beats of the world that test you, and that’s when the toughness stands out.
Withdrawing has become a word synonymous with quitting on the PGA Tour, and it’s time the men in charge change that.
If not, we will see more and more of those WDs at the bottom of the PGA Tour leaderboards and more and more of our big names that don’t need the weekend check getting out as soon as they can when their game isn’t as sharp as they had hoped.
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