As the first alternate in The Players Championship field, Brian Harman had to figure there was a pretty good chance he'd be teeing it up at TPC Sawgrass this week.
So he showed up on Thursday morning and hung around the clubhouse, cell phone in hand, waiting for the green light from tournament officials. Only the call never came.
The unfortunate thing for Harman was he actually made it into the field at 8:39 a.m. ET, when D.A. Points withdrew from the tournament with a back injury. But tour officials never informed Harman of his tee time.
Why? Because they didn't have any idea that last week's runner-up at the Wells Fargo Championship had pulled out. Points decided to inform his playing partners, Carl Pettersson and Robert Garrigus, that he was a no-go on the first tee ... right as his name was being announced.
Garrigus and Pettersson, who had already teed off, decided to go ahead as a twosome, leaving Harman in a lurch. As soon as officials got word, they rushed to inform Harman, who was playing ping-pong with caddie John Davenport, of the good news.
The only problem was Points' late withdrawal meant that even though Harman was in, there still wasn't a spot for him in one of the upcoming threesomes. After discussing the issue for three hours, PGA Tour VP of Rules and Competition, Mark Russell, decided to let Harman go off as a single at 12:05 p.m. ET, right before the afternoon wave.
Considering the entire situation wasn't Harman's fault, the decision seemed extremely fair. Russell even admitted it was incredibly bizarre.
"In my 31 years on the golf tour, I can never remember a player withdrawing right before he's supposed to play," Russell said. "It happened very quickly. We didn't have time to react. Once we were able to sit down and get our heads around this, figure out exactly what the situation is, we decided that Brian Harman had done everything that we had asked him to do."
The funny thing is, this was the second week in which Russell has been forced to comment on a rules decision, after tour officials allowed Tiger Woods to take a free drop at the Wells Fargo, when they determined someone had pocketed Woods' ball.
After waiting on pins and needles to see if he was in, Brian Harman, I'm going to bet, picks up a chair and sits on the first tee the next time he's first alternate. There's no way he wants to go through this ordeal again.
Jonathan Wall, Yahoo! Sports
- Sports & Recreation