Tom Kite and Vijay Singh are the last two people I’d normally get riled up about, but thanks to an absurd decision by the USGA this week to allow the non-exempt Singh into the U.S. Open field while snubbing ‘92 U.S. Open Champion (@ Pebble Beach, no less) Kite, I’ll make an exception.
This Monday, Kite will rise at dawn to slog through 36 holes with mostly amateurs and semi-pros outside Denver in a desperate bid to make the Open field. Meanwhile Singh, with his current game in disrepair and facing a similar qualifying day after his request for a free spot in the field was turned down, has since been gifted a tee time for Pebble Beach.
So why does former Pebble Beach U.S. Open Champion Kite have to qualify while Singh doesn’t?
Kite didn’t threaten to skip his qualifier because his tee time was too early in the morning.
Singh from a press conference at The Memorial in Ohio:
VIJAY SINGH: I’m so happy that they gave it to me. I thanked them already. I would have been disappointed, but, hey, you know, there’s always the week after that.
Q. There’s no Monday, you’re not going to play this Monday in the qualifier. I know you were injured technically.
VIJAY SINGH: I was injured, and when I found out my tee time is 7:30, I said I’m not going to go and qualify. I was really debating it.
Now for the really absurd part.
It appears another one of the factors in the USGA reversing its decision on Singh was a column written by Jeff Rude of GOLFWEEK imploring the USGA to grant Singh an exemption. At the same presser, Singh acknowledged Rude’s piece as possibly having an impact on his U.S. Open playing status.
Q. When you got the news about the U.S. Open yesterday, were you surprised?
VIJAY SINGH: At first they said no. Then I said, okay, that’s fine. Then I think they read Jeff Rude — where is he?
Q. He’s not here this week.
VIJAY SINGH: I want to thank him for his comments on that. Then I think they went back and they all said go, you know. It was a relief. I was hoping for an invite. If I really wanted to play the U.S. Open, I wanted to play well in Texas and move up my rankings.
I think I need to go out there and start playing the way I know how, just to play good. It’s going to be a good time.
Q. So actually you first talked to them, and they told you they weren’t going to give it to you?
VIJAY SINGH: My agents did, and they said no. Then they come back after they thought about it, and they said yes. It’s a relief.
Noted golf blogger Geoff Shackelford on the Singh exemption:
He was so passionate about playing in the Open that he waivered about showing up for the qualifying, when there are 9000 other golfers who would kill to have a shot at qualifying?
Meanwhile, a man most definitely not debating about whether it’s too early is 60-year-old Tom Kite, 1992 U.S. Open winner at Pebble Beach, who is slated to play at the Littleton, Colorado qualifier (Columbine CC) where 29 players are playing for 2 spots. I’m guessing he’s just fine with the early tee time.
I’m not out to get Singh, but rules are rules. If former Pebble U.S. Open champ Kite isn’t exempt, than Singh, who has seen his golf game fall off a cliff for whatever reason, shouldn’t be either.
If you replaced Kite’s last name with “Watson,” somehow I think things might be a little different.