Alum Exemplifies True Sportsmanship on World Stage

AJGA One of the most appealing things about the game of golf is the sportsmanship; it’s a gentleman’s game. History has proven this time and again, and while there are individual hiccups here and there, you’ll never find another sport where players call penalties on themselves, in spite of the pleas of rules officials to do the opposite. It is because of this tenet that some of golf’s most notable moments have been recorded.

Take for example, the first round of the 1925 U.S. Open. Bobby Jones’ approach shot to the 11th hole's elevated green fell short into the deep rough of the embankment. As he took his stance to pitch onto the green, the head of his club brushed the grass and caused a slight movement of the ball. He took the shot, and then informed his playing partner Walter Hagen and the USGA official covering their match that he was calling a penalty on himself. Officials argued with Jones but he insisted and took a 77 instead of 76. His choice would cost him the Open. The one-stroke penalty obligated a playoff, which he lost.

How about Ben Hogan? In his first pro golf tournament, the Texas Open of 1930, he quit after making the halfway cut because he decided he wasn't good enough to compete at that level, which is nothing short of respectable. These are moments of true sportsmanship.

In a similar fashion, Maggie Budzar, a 2010 PGCC Orlando graduate, acting as a PGA Transport official at this year’s Ryder Cup, lent a hand to Rory McIlroy, European team player, and world No. 1. McIlroy would have missed his Sunday singles tee time were it not for the assistance of Maggie and another transport official, Erica Stoll. McIlroy’s error was chalked up to confusion over time zones; he had set his watch to the wrong time zone, throwing his timeline off by an hour.

AJGAIn an earlier published interview with The Guardian, Maggie shared her experience, saying “It was 10:30am, I knew [McIlroy's caddie] JP Fitzgerald had left about an hour earlier. I knew Rory's tee time was 11:25 and he was the third group to go off. And we still hadn't seen him.” She continues, "I started getting worried that something had happened to him or that he had taken a different ride to the course. There was only one room still in use when housekeeping checked and a male voice said not to come in. We figured it had to be him because by now we knew he wasn't at the course.”

At that point, Maggie made an executive decision. "I called the guys at the driving range to see if they had seen him. They hadn't so I called the European Tour officials to alert them. At first I was going to drive him to the course because I knew the way and we didn't want to put a volunteer under stress in the courtesy car. I then asked a trooper at the front if he could take him with the flash light on. He said that would be ‘OK’. I gave Rory the choice and he went straight to the front seat of the trooper's car. That was about 10:52."

Ultimately, had he arrived within 5 minutes of his 11:25 tee time, he would have lost the first hole; had he been any later than that, the match would have been forfeited to the United States team. Because the US later lost to Europe you might think that there would be some inner turmoil about the choice to help seal their victory, but there isn’t. That’s what sportsmanship is about; setting an example, and doing the right thing.

Deputy Chief of the Lombard Police Department, Pat Rollins, sped McIlroy on the 12-mile journey from his hotel to the Medinah course, and as thanks, during their celebrations on Sunday evening, Europe's team autographed two Medinah flags for Rollins. In an interview with "BBC Radio 5 - Live” Rollins shared that: "I took it as a job well done. I'm getting ribbed at work for this but in the end I am very proud of our force and our community. We did the right thing and of course I would have done the same for the American team."