SAN FRANCISCO — A heated argument over a ruling between Keegan Bradley and Miguel Angel Jimenez marred the end of their match on Friday afternoon at Harding Park, an almost unheard of occurrence in golf.
Neither player had a chance to advance beyond the pool stage of the WGC-Cadillac Match Play but Bradley trailed by 1 hole as they played the 18th, where his tee shot came to rest near a restraining fence from which he was entitled to relief.
And that’s what led to the problems.
Bradley took a drop after his ball went into a production area, but it put his ball on a cart path — from which he was entitled to more relief. And that’s where Jimenez intervened, apparently questioning the drop and even getting into an argument with Bradley’s caddie, Steve “Pepsi” Hale.
“Don’t you ever tell me to shut up,” Hale could be heard saying on the television broadcast.
Bradley, who went 0-3 after Jimenez’s 2-up victory, was clearly upset about the situation afterward. Trailed to his car in the parking lot by reporters, he had to stop and gather himself at one point.
“I felt like he was being very disrespectful to not only me but my caddie so I felt like I kind of had to stand up for my boy here; me and Pepsi have been through a lot,” said Bradley, 28, a three-time PGA Tour winner who captured the 2011 PGA Championship. “It’s just a heat-of-the moment thing. There’s not much more I can say. It was disappointing. I’m pretty bummed out about it.”
The discussion apparently centered on where the ball originally came to rest. A production area is walled off by a fence from which players get a free drop. Bradley’s ball went over that fence and he was given relief near the fence, where he could take a drop. From there, his ball came to rest on a cart path, again leading to relief.
Jimenez came over to question all of it, Hale said.
“Keegan was getting a little frustrated with that, and he had a right to be,” Hale said. “We have a rules official with and he decides to interject himself on the ruling again. He questioned the drop again, questioned the rules official. It’s clearly escalating.
“I don’t understand why a player wants to interject himself into a situation when a rules official is right there. And he doesn’t have to talk to Keegan about it.”
Earlier in the round, Jimenez asked for a ruling on the 13th hole, one that took a long time and caused play to back up.
Jimenez, 51, is an accomplished player on the European Tour who was in the running for the 2016 Ryder Cup captaincy that went to Darren Clarke. He has won 21 times, including a win at last year’s Spanish Open which extended his record for the oldest winner in tour history.
He is often celebrated as “the most interesting man in golf,” because of his ponytail, his love of wine, cars and cigars. Jimenez also has a unique warm-up routine which has made the rounds on YouTube.
Afterward, Jimenez apparently tried to discuss the matter further with Bradley, although reporters were not able to witness the discussion in the locker room.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about it,” Jimenez said. “Whatever happened is finished. The round is finished. We had a discussion, but now it’s done. My intention was to be helpful, that’s it. I just tried to get across what I wanted to say.”
Such an exchange among players is rare.
“I have a world of respect for him. He’s a great player out here,” Bradley said of Jimenez. “I felt like I had to stick up myself. I had a ruling, he felt like he needed to intervene and he was bring inappropriate. Very rarely do you have a ruling and have the other person interject. It was over the top, accusatory.”