A bizarre shuttle situation at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Lecom Suncoast Classic penalized six players and might have even most significant ramifications for one pro.
Two threesomes — Mason Andersen, Wilson Furr and Alejandro Tosti, and later Ashton Van Horne, Boo Weekley and Jared Wolfe — were penalized in separate occasions for taking unauthorized shuttle rides from a green to a tee box on Friday at Lakewood National Golf Club in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. The incidents occurred on two different routes: from 9 green to 10 tee for Van Horne/Weekley/Wolfe and from 18 green to 1 tee for Andersen/Furr/Tosti.
The penalties (Model Local Rule G-6), which were first reported by Monday Q Info’s Ryan French, seem to stem from a combination of oversight and bad luck.
Players receive tournament-specific rules sheets for every event, which would lay out things like where transportation is and is not allowed. According to French, this week’s event didn’t have a locker room, so it wasn’t posted there, but it was still available in player dining and online via player portals.
For this week, the only authorized shuttle was from 7 green to 8 tee, as well as shuttles from the range to starting tees.
But here’s where the confusion begins.
Tosti told Golf Channel he was the first to walk off the 18th green and noticed a volunteer sitting in the same shuttle they rode in earlier to the 10th tee. The KFT told French the cart was there because it had stopped while the players putted.
“I asked the guy, ‘Are you giving rides to the first tee?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, jump in,’” Tosti told Golf Channel. “I know that I cannot jump in a cart that is not official, but this was almost like organized. It almost seemed like someone sent this guy to give us a ride. It was ready, waiting for us to walk off the green and give us a ride to the first tee, and that guy apparently was not supposed to be there.”
A few holes later, the group was told they were being penalized. The other threesome’s penalty didn’t come as soon, though. Van Horne said he didn’t learn of the penalty until Saturday morning.
“Didn’t really think twice [when riding in the cart],” Van Horne told GOLF.com. “It was a volunteer in the same yellow shirt as the other shuttle drivers, parked right outside of the ropes where the players left the green. I don’t think the volunteer was trying to help/hurt, just an elderly man. Just an unfortunate situation.”
It’s unclear if it was the same driver for both groups.
Of the six players penalized, two had missed the cut anyway (Andersen and Van Horne). Tosti dropped from 10 under to eight under, and Wolfe went from nine to seven under. Weekley and Furr both went from six under to four under and, without the penalty, would have made the cut on the number and advanced to the weekend. Instead they missed by two shots and were sent home.
But it was Furr who paid the biggest price.
“This sucks,” he told Golf Channel. “There’s no way around it. It just sucks. To start the day, probably one of the bigger rounds I’ve played in my career, and I knew it, and for this to happen then, just ugh.”
As French laid out, the 24-year-old pro had made three of seven cuts coming into this week and was 148th in points. This was his eighth and final start due to where he finished in the final stage of Q-School. Now, after this eighth event, the standings will be reshuffled, and due to Furr’s missed cut he’s not likely to get any more starts this season unless he gets a sponsor’s exemption or Monday qualifies.
“This decision cost me my job,” Furr told French. “If this was a member cart, I deserve the penalty, but this was a cart parked right outside the tunnel, marked shuttle, with a volunteer driving.”
“At the end of the day, we are responsible,” Tosti told Golf Channel. “But this was very, very strange.”