Charley Hoffman misinterpreted a rule. His frustration at the PGA Tour, on the other hand, was clear.
In an Instagram post on Friday night, Hoffman ripped the Tour, its rules officials and the USGA, and referenced proposed rival tours, after he was forced to take two penalty strokes after a drive into the water on the 13th hole at TPC Scottsdale. A double bogey dropped the longtime pro down the leaderboard during the second round of the WM Phoenix Open, though he did make the cut.
“What a joke @usga@pgatour today on the 13th hole I hit my drive in the water and took a drop on a side of a hill that no grass,” Hoffman wrote. “Dropped twice then place on a small tuff of grass. Turned around the ball started rolling into the water. I was under the impression that the @usgahad changed that rule. I was wrong. Had to take another penalty for doing nothing wrong at all. Did everything by the book. It’s still mind blowing that a group of amateurs rule the professional game of golf. I also blame the @pgatour rules officials for putting out a terrible penalty area line where this could even happen. No accountability at any level here. No protection for the players at all. You wonder why guys are wanting to jump ship and go play on another tour. Players need transparency, protection and consistency. We don’t have that under the current governing bodies.
“@golfchannel @golfdigest@dpworldtour @saudiintlgolf@barstoolsports @riggsbarstool@espn @foxsports @cbssports@nbcsports
“Sorry Jay! We need to do better at all levels of the @pgatour. Including myself who represent the players on the board of the Tour. If we don’t we won’t have a Tour any longer!
“Hopefully there will be a change soon.”
At issue was the drop. Once Hoffman had placed the ball, it was in play, and notably, a similar situation happened to Rickie Fowler during the final round of the 2019 Phoenix Open. Then, while leading by five, he hit a shot into the water on the 11th hole, he also placed it and then walked up to the green, only to see the ball roll back into the water. Fowler was also assessed a penalty stroke and triple-bogeyed the hole, but ended up with a two-shot victory. On Friday, a message to a Tour rules official by GOLF.com was not immediately returned.
Hoffman’s “jump ship” comment was no doubt a reference to various proposed rival leagues, among them one that is backed by the Saudi Arabia-based LIV Golf Investments group and headed by Greg Norman. During last week’s Saudi International, also backed LIV Golf, reports began to circulate of multi-million dollar offers for Tour players to join, and they appear to have reached the ears of Hoffman, who is also one of four player directors on the PGA Tour’s Player Advisory Council, and the “Jay” in Hoffman’s post, who is likely Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.
Among the commenters on Hoffman’s post were Phil Mickelson, who wrote: “I feel ya.” Last week, in an interview with Golf Digest ahead of the Saudi International, Mickelson ripped the PGA Tour’s media rights policy and said the Tour’s “greed” is “beyond obnoxious.”
“I don’t know where things are headed, but I know I will be criticized,” he said. “That’s not my concern. All that would do is dumb down one of the most intricate issues in sports. It would be so naive to not factor in all of the complexities. The media rights are but a small fraction of everything else. And it is the Tour’s obnoxious greed that has really opened the door for opportunities elsewhere.”