Cameron Tringale began the FedEx Cup playoffs with a 66 and a clear conscience.
Tringale disqualified himself from the PGA Championship several days after the final major of the year ended. He was concerned he might have whiffed on a tap-in bogey putt on the 11th hole of the final round at Valhalla.
"The more I thought about it, I didn’t want the way I play this game or my integrity questioned," Tringale said Thursday.
He called the PGA of America and was disqualified.
Tringale had tied for 33rd, so he lost out on the $53,000 in prize money. Perhaps more important, he lost 37 points in the FedEx Cup, which cost him eight spots in the standings. He went into The Barclays at No. 61.
Those points could loom large if Tringale can move into the top 30 after three playoff events and qualify for the Tour Championship, which would make him exempt for the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open.
Tringale said in a statement last week that when he approached the hole to tap in his 3-inch putt for bogey, the putter swung over the ball.
"The issue had come up in the scoring trailer on Sunday. I didn’t feel like it was a stroke and my competitor agreed," Tringale said. "We agreed on the score and that was fine. Although as the week went on, I think like Tuesday, I started to kind of review my week and that came up in my head. Is there a doubt if my playing competitor was doubting what that looked like?"
Matt Jones of Australia played the final round with Tringale and brought up the incident in the scoring trailer after they finished at Valhalla.
"I asked him what he had on that hole because we all saw what happened," Jones said Thursday. "And I asked him what he had on No. 11. He said, `4.’ I just asked, `Did you not make a stroke at that ball?’ And he said there was no intent. Once a player says there was no intent to make a stroke, I left it at that and signed his scorecard.
"He doesn’t have any type of reputation you would otherwise think to question him."
Tringale said he spoke with rules officials and eventually decided he should withdraw. The decision was announced Saturday and Tringale said he felt "definitely better."
"The more I played it out in my head … if I play well, if I make it to East Lake, would I have been there if I did take a 5? So I just felt it was better to get it out and take myself out than to just be questioning and wondering for the rest of my life," he said.
He said he spoke to rules officials at the USGA and PGA of America. Both said only Tringale would know if he took a stroke and the decision had to be his alone.
"I was put in that position of, `OK, I’m either out or I’m living with the question,’" he said. "So I said, `Well, I’m taking a 5 and I’m out.’"
Jones said he was surprised and that he thinks Tringale should have left it alone.
"I thought it was over and done with," Jones said. "I would have preferred him to just leave it as it was. I was happy. I didn’t see the need for him to DQ himself. If he was going to, he should have taken care of it in the scorer’s tent. I wouldn’t have signed his card if I thought otherwise."
He said the PGA official in the scoring area asked if they wanted to review on television.
"He said there was no intent," Jones said. "TV causes a lot of problems for other people. We don’t need to go do that. I don’t know if was (on television). That’s why I didn’t even bother trying."
Tringale’s opening round of 66 left him one shot out of the lead at The Barclays, the first of four straight playoff events. At No. 61, Tringale is safe for making the top 100 who advance to the next event outside Boston. The top 70 reach the third event in Denver, and the top 30 advance to East Lake for the Tour Championship and a shot at the $10 million prize.
In each of the last five years under this structure, the last player into East Lake made it by 30 points or fewer.