‘I cheated’: After scoring controversy, pro confesses to wrongdoing

Justin Doeden plays his shot from the eighth tee during the second round of the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament Final Stage at Landings Club-Marshwood Course on November 5, 2021

Justin Doeden at a Korn Ferry Tour event in 2021.

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It was a shocking allegation.

At the PGA Tour Canada’s Ottawa Open last week, 28-year-old Justin Doeden was accused of changing his score on the final hole from a double-bogey 7 to a par 5 after the card already had been signed by his playing partner.

The incident was first reported by Ryan French of Monday Q Info, who spoke to players in Doeden’s group. According to their account, they noticed Doeden’s posted 36-hole total of three under while having lunch after the round. The incorrect score placed Doeden one shot inside the cut line, tied for 60th, which meant 13 other players, who would tie for 61st, would miss the weekend — and tournament prize money.

According to French’s reporting, the players notified the tournament officials, who, upon examining Doeden’s scorecard, discovered that the originally-marked 7 on No. 18 had been erased and replaced with a 5. Doeden’s original score would have put him outside the cutline and weekend money. Doeden withdrew from the tournament during the officials’ investigation, and he did not respond to a request for comment from French.

But on Monday, Doeden took to Twitter to confess to his actions, if not in great detail:

“I am here to confess of the biggest mistake I have made in my life to date,” he wrote. “I cheated in golf. This is not who I am. I let my sponsors down. I let my competitors down. I let my family down. I let myself down. I pray for your forgiveness. John 1:9.” Doeden also tagged French’s Twitter handle.

According to the New International Version translation of the Bible, 1 John 1:9 reads: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

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Doeden lists Titleist and FootJoy as sponsors on his Twitter bio. He turned pro in 2018 and has played 56 tournaments on PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour Latinoamerica, as well as one event each on the Korn Ferry and PGA Tours. Earlier this month, he was eliminated from a three-way playoff for his first PGA Tour Latinoamerica title at the Bupa Tour Championship and finished T2.

It doesn’t appear that Doeden was ever disqualified from the Ottawa Open, as his status still reads “W/D” on the PGA Tour Canada website, with a 36-hole score of three under.

When asked by GOLF.com whether Doeden will face a fine or suspension for his cheating admission, a PGA Tour Canada representative replied with the following statement:

“A violation of the Rules of Golf is handled in accordance with the PGA TOUR Canada Player Handbook and Tournament Regulations. Per TOUR policy, the matter — and any related disciplinary action — will be handled internally.”

Golf.com Editor

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.