Out of the Rough: Why 'cheating' isn't so bad
Philadelphia, PA – Jesse Ventura, the former professional wrestler and former Governor of Minnesota, once said, "Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat."
To be clear, Ventura said this during his wrestling days, not in the Governor's mansion, but in the golf world, we endured our first genuine cheating moment in a long time this past weekend at the BMW International Open.
Jose Manuel Lara's caddie, Mathias Vinson, realized his guy had 15 clubs in the bag on the second hole Thursday. It reminded you of the scene in 2001 at the Open Championship when Ian Woosnam found out that happened to him. Woosie tossed the extra driver into some bushes after he informed the referee.
Lara's situation had some of the same elements as Woosie's, with one notable exception.
Lara's extra club landed in some bushes, all right, but Vinson never mentioned to his pro its existence. Vinson's plan, clearly not all the way thought out, was to pretend like he was taking a restroom break, casually drop the club in shrubs, go about his business and taint the very sport that earned him a living.
He got busted. His man got disqualified from the event and Vinson was banned from caddying "indefinitely" by the European Tour.
Bare with me, but I loved this, and the reason has to do with golf's attitude about itself.
Let's paint a picture. Say someone, high on the leaderboard on Sunday, calls a penalty on himself. Try to remember Webb Simpson last year in New Orleans. His ball moved when he addressed it, called the penalty on himself and everyone collectively fell over praising Simpson for doing so.
Yes, golf is the only sport that truly polices itself for penalties. Yes, traditionally, players have called themselves for violations, but after awhile, it just gets nauseating.
When, as a society, did we fall into a pattern of effusively gushing about people who do what's right? Is it really commendable anymore to stand up for a man who only did what he was supposed to do?
Certainly, no one should condone cheating and that's what Vinson absolutely did. But wasn't it mildly amusing hearing that a guy all of a sudden thought he was slicker than James Bond?
Not everyone will feel this way, and I'm not suggesting that I want people to cheat in this situation. The right thing to do was to immediately fess up to the crime, beg Lara for forgiveness and move on.
What he did will probably cost him his career. That's not necessarily a shame, but it just felt good to see someone try to be human, flaws, warts and all. Unfiltered praise of the game because of nothing more than not lying comes off as self-aggrandizing.
Golf is so stuffy and this made it seem less so. That's a good thing, although having a guy try to be sneaky is not the best way to promote such a less stuffy approach.
This is not a popular opinion, but I don't think it's anything more than a silly man trying to avoid a major mistake. He handled it poorly and he'll be out of our lives soon enough.
But I congratulate him for allowing me to sit through a golf penalty conversation without needing a garbage can next to me.
- Anyone criticizing Simpson for missing the British Open to be with his wife around the time she's due with their second child is clueless. He will be in England, not a few states over. The Open Championship is scheduled to end two weeks before her due date, but coming from someone whose son was born three weeks early, you take no chances.
- When Brittany Lang won the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic Sunday, she became the first Duke player to win on the LPGA Tour. Have no idea why that's interesting, but do with that information what you will.
- The Travelers Championship was not pristine. A slew of guys hit really poor shots down the stretch and Marc Leishman won in the end.
- Movie moment - No movies this week, but I put "Crazy, Stupid Love" on the DVR. I doubt I'll like it, but I hope I don't find it crazy, and, or, stupid.
- TV moment - I like "The Newsroom," but didn't love it. Jeff Daniels and Sam Waterston were dynamic and I chuckled, especially at Waterston's character. As a lifelong Aaron Sorkin fan ("The West Wing" reruns are actually on as I wrote this), it has a Sorkin feel. It has room for improvement, but it was a good first impression.