Skyler Fox US Open qualifier: 16-year-old says he was disqualified.
Sixteen-year-old Skyler Fox competed in one of a dozen U.S. Open sectionals on Monday, attempting to qualify for next week’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
Yet after Fox finished his round at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland, he took off for his car. He had been battling a headache throughout his round, and had to go to the bathroom.
So he grabbed his medicine, used the bathroom and returned to the scorer’s table.
But when he did, he found his father and his swing coach arguing with a tournament official. 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, via USA Today. “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.”
USGA: Fox went to lunch
According to a USGA spokesperson, Fox was disqualified for violating Rule 3.3b(2), which states, in part, that a player “must certify the hole scores on the scorecard and promptly return it to the committee.”
USGA manager of championship communications Brian DePasquale told Golfweek that Fox “went to lunch and did not enter the scoring area until the following group had returned their cards.” DePasquale said that Fox didn’t enter the scoring area until about 15 minutes after his round ended.
USGA senior director of rules of golf and amateur status Craig Winter told USA Today on Thursday that this type of rule breach has not happened at the Woodmont sectional before. He also said that, after hearing from rules officials on site, that the other two players in Fox’s group didn’t know where he was.
He had been marking another player’s score on his own, per the report, and the other two started piecing together his round on a blank scorecard while they started looking for him. Winter, though, said that “nobody knew what he looked like.”
After Fox arrived and the committee asked for an explanation, Winter said there was no mention of a headache, according to USA Today.
“That would have changed the calculus of what this whole situation looked like significantly,” Winter said, via USA Today. “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.”
Despite arguments, Fox was still disqualified
While DePasquale said it took about 15 minutes for Fox to show up at the scorers area, Fox’s father, Joe, said it was no more than 10 minutes — and that the group behind them had yet to reach the 18th green. His car, Joe said, was no more than 100 feet from the course.
“The kid had to go to the bathroom,” Joe said, via USA Today. “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?”
Even if Fox’s score would have counted, he likely wouldn’t have earned a spot in the U.S. Open.
The high school junior from Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania — who recorded a 70 in his regional qualifier at Beechmont Country Club in Ohio last month, finishing in the top seven among 116 golfers — finished with a 78 on Monday. Only four players advanced out of the two-day qualifier, firing either 2-under or 3-under.
“With no disrespect to my son, I didn’t really figure he was going to qualify,” Joe said, via USA Today. “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.”