Drama as Davis calls penalty on himself

Briton concedes title to Furyk in play-off

Bob Warters's picture
Mon, 19 Apr 2010

Brian Davis, London-born US PGA Tour professional, has courted more than his fair share of drama. He and his wife Julie - daughter of former England and Liverpool goalkeeper Ray Clemence -  have three children and following the birth of Oliver, Henry was born with a kidney condition which has meant many hospital visits. And when his third child Madeline was born in 2008, both her lungs collapsed and it was only the quick thinking and dedication of the hospital staff that kept her alive.

Brian now campaigns tirelessly to improve the conditions of those less fortunate and in particular focuses his efforts towards the Arnold Palmer hospital in Florida where the family now lives.

So it was no surprise to see him at the centre of more dramatic scenes yesterday when he forced a play-off with fellow Srixon player Jim Furyk with a birdie at the 72nd hole of the Verizon Classic over the famous Hilton Head Harbor Town links in South Carolina.

On the play-off hole with the lighthouse as the backdrop, Davis, who has never won on the PGA Tour, pulled his approach just off the green and the ball rolled over rocks and onto marshland.

As he attempted to chip on, his wedge moved a small reed in his takeaway and Davis quickly called for a rules official, whom, after checking the TV replay, confirmed the two-shot penalty. Davis conceded to Furyk before the world's sixth-ranked player putted out, though his $615,000 pay cheque and a jump into the world's top 100 players provided some consolation.

“I know I did it,” Davis told Tournament director Slugger White. “I could not have lived with myself if I had not [have mentioned it].”

However, what Davis lost on the course will be regained in his reputation for his honorable act, according to White. “That will come back to him spades, tenfold,” White said.

Davis has had a chequered career since I first interviewed him at the start of his professional career, when he gained a sponsors’ invitation for the 1995 DHL Jersey Open at La Moye.

I was asked by DHL, the package delivery company, if I'd feature the shy 21 year-old making his first Tour start, in the magazine I edited at the time, as he was their protégé and they had high hopes for him. Since then he has won twice on the European Tour and won the 2004 PGA Tour qualifying school. But despite a second place in the HP Byron Nelson and tied fifth at The Players and Valero Texas Open in the past 12 months, a first win in America still eludes him.

But he won't be short of fans following his admitted violation of Rule 13.4 - moving a loose impediment during a takeaway - which was indiscernible but for slow motion TV replays.

“It was one of those things. I thought I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. And I thought we’d check on TV, and indeed there was movement,” Davis said.

Commented Furyk, for whom it was his 15th Tour win but first victory at Harbor Town, having twice been runner-up: “I want to react to the crowd and kind of wave and let them know, that ‘Hey, I’m excited.' But I don’t want it to take away from Brian. To have the tournament come down that way is definitely not the way I wanted to win. It’s obviously a tough loss for him and I respect and admire what he did.”

Davis has come a long way since our first meeting in the La Moye clubhouse but he hasn't changed his outlook. He said at the time: "I’m determined to make a go of this. I work very hard at my game and I’m convinced I’ll not look out of place on Tour, if only I can get a few starts."

As a result of his sportsmanship he'll certainly get many more and will thoroughly deserve that first win on US soil when it comes, as inevitably it will.

Both Davis and Furyk are full Srixon contract Players and use the Srixon Z-Star ball.