World of Sport

Is this sportsmanship gone mad? Player disqualifies himself after achieving dream

World of Sport

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To achieve your sporting dream is something to be cherished, not thrown away - yet that is exactly what American Jason Millard did by disqualifying himself.

In a quite incredible act of sportsmanship and honesty, the golfer effectively ruined his own dream after belatedly calling a penalty on himself having secured qualification to the US Open.

Millard qualified in Memphis, Tennessee on June 2 but, despite having no controversy over his place, decided to call a vital penalty on himself several days afterwards.

What is more, remarkably he is still not even sure that he committed a penalty at all.

Put simply, he has taken sporting integrity to a new level by ruling himself out of a dream debut in the US Open for an offence he is not sure he committed a week ago.

The 24-year-old, who is actually struggling to make a living unlike many of the stars he would have joined in the US Open field, has now forgone the berth in the highly-lucrative and prestigious Major at Pinehurst.

After five days of soul-searching, Millard rang the United States Golf Association and called the penalty on himself, believing that he "may" have inadvertently broken the rules while playing his third shot on the 18th hole of Colonial Country Club’s North Course – his 27th hole of the day.

"I think I may have grounded my club in the bunker,” Millard said. “I didn’t see anything for sure but I felt something and I saw a small indentation.

"I was actually in the act of making my swing when I thought I saw it. It was like a blur. That image keeps popping in my head.

"I really don’t know 100 per cent, but I couldn’t find peace about it. For five days I practised and I couldn’t get it off my mind. I thought about it every single second of the day. It ate away inside of me.”

At the time, Millard consulted with his bewildered playing partner Tommy Gainey, who had not spotted anything untoward, and even asked a rules official present - who again had seen nothing that concerned him.

USGA responded: "We commend Jason for bringing this matter to our attention. At this time we have no recourse but to disqualify him under the rules of golf."

It is not the only time when a star's honesty has been such that fans and experts have been left divided in admiration and frustration.

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Lutz Long helped enable Jesse Owens, his fierce competitor, to win the second of his four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics as he advised his rival to re-mark out his run following two fouls. He proceeded to spare his blushes and Owens went on to triumph with Long second.

Andy Roddick had a match point in the final set of his match against Fernando Verdasco at the Rome Masters in 2005 when he disputed a call which went in his favour. Verdasco won the point when it was replayed and went on to secure a thrilling victory.

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Robbie Fowler earned a UEFA Fair Play award after he admitted that he was not fouled after winning a penalty against Arsenal. The referee insisted that he take the ensuing penalty, with Fowler passing the ball tamely to the goalkeeper David Seaman.

The London Marathon in 1981 - the first ever edition of the race - was jointly won by American Dick Beardsley and Norwegian Inge Simonsen, who instead of vying for victory decided to hold hands and cross the line together in a time of two hours, 11 minutes and 48 seconds.


Can you recall any other amazing demonstrations of sportsmanship? Did Millard do the right thing this week or should he have clung on to his dream? Post your thoughts below...

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