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19th Hole

Golfer suspected of cheating in wild disqualification incident at Q-School

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‘You come to a fire pit to hear a story, or tell one. This Fire Pit collects them.’

So say Monday Q-school king, Ryan French and his band of associates, the respected bunch including Matt Ginella and Alan Shipnuck, the journalist that broke the golfing internet with that Phil Mickelson story.

While he had been doing the minor job for a while, French launched himself into golfing superstardom during lockdown 2020, covering the likes of the Cactus and Outlaw mini-tours. His stream of stories include players living off tin cans whilst sleeping in virtual wrecks and working in stores immediately after playing for hours on end, but he’s topped the lot with the story posted on Monday.

As he says himself, “On Friday I had walked off the plane upon returning home from a trip to San Diego. I was looking forward to a quiet night with my family when I got a DM. “You aren’t going to believe this,” it read. I get a lot of those DMs, and often the story turns out not to be a big deal.

The tale is long and complicated, so I’ll try to summarise enough that you pop over to the site to read the full, unedited version.

The story takes place at the final round of a pre-qualifier for Q-School, held at Quarry Oaks, a 7,200-yard par-71 course in Ashland, Nebraska.

Five people are involved here: players Matt Moroz, Andrew Ni and Grant Haefner, as well as caddies Andy Smith for Moroz and Clayton Kucera, looping for Ni.

All three were on the cut line, needing something positive to progress their individual dreams, but, after rumors of foul play the day before, Nebraska PGA officials planned to keep a close eye on the group, particularly on Moroz, who had often been spotted walking well ahead of his two playing partners.

Ryan writes, “For four holes during the final round, nothing unusual happened. Things changed on the 5th hole, a 375-yard par-4. “

Having found himself in the rough off the tee, and facing a tough second, Moroz played his approach and commented to Smith that, “I skullfucked it.”

True to the whispers, player and caddie walked ahead of the rest of the group towards a hidden green. As Ni and Haefner approached the putting surface, they found Moroz walking towards them, “pumping his fists and yelling, ‘It’s in the hole!'”

Neither player had seen Moroz retrieve the ball from the hole, but the report states that, “Haefner reasoned with himself, “We have all seen crazy bounces in golf.” Haefner and Ni both recall Moroz saying something like: “Maybe it bounced off the turkeys.” It was a reference to a flock of turkeys that were loitering in the rough. Moroz denied saying that, adding, “Maybe my caddie, Andy, did it as a joke.”

It gets crazier. In discussion, well after the event, Moroz states he has a video of the ball in the hole, a video nobody mentioned at the time!

Firepit quote Smith as saying, “I wouldn’t normally video a shot, but we were excited. It got us from 4 to 6 under.”

Make of it what you will, but two holes later they reach the 458-yard par-4 7th.

Haefner hits the short stuff, but Ni goes into the left penalty area and lefty Moroz pulls one into the same trouble, but right.

The course has a spotter for the Q-School and the wayward drives were not unusual. What followed certainly was.

“The spotter stuck a red flag in the ground where Moroz’s ball had entered the hazard and headed across the fairway to look for Ni’s ball. Haefner, Ni, his caddie, the spotter and a rules official who had rolled up to the group began searching for Ni’s ball, which they found.”

Neither Moroz nor Smith helped locate Ni’s ball, but as all three made their way to the green,

“Haefner, having grown increasingly skeptical, asked Moroz what he was putting for. ‘Birdie,’ he replied.”

From dense, almost unplayable rough in a penalty area, Moroz had 15 feet for bird. Fire Pit report that the player “explained that Smith had found his ball just outside the penalty area, nearly 30 yards ahead (and around a corner of the wooded area) of where the ball entered.”

It was becoming a bit much for the other two, and the experienced Kucera reported his suspicions to a rules official, who returned to the spot they believed Moroz had hit his previous drive. Rumor was becoming a fact.

In what surely is one of the most unbelievable of stories, French continues his chronicle.

“The 8th hole would bring even more drama as Moroz fell to the ground in apparent back pain. This scene played out so often over the next 10 holes that Kucera would say on a tee after Moroz had fallen yet again, “get up and get out of the way.” As the group walked down the fairway, Smith told Kucera, “When a guy is hurt, don’t tell him to get out of the way.” To the caddie and other other players, it felt as if Moroz was faking the injury in an attempt to gain sympathy.”

Suspected cheats may not prosper but “on the par-5 18th, he [Moroz] hit two good shots to reach the front bunker but skulled his third over the green. Then he holed a 15-yard downhill chip shot for birdie. As a result, he moved the cut line, knocking out a couple of young pros trying to launch their careers.”

Of course, the round finished with plenty of speculation and, after some discussion, a PGA Tour rules official was waiting to interview the five members of the group.

The report then shows some variety in the evidence given.

“He [Moroz] said he hit a 9-iron into the green [on the 7th]. Kucera spoke up, saying Moroz couldn’t have reached the green with a 9-iron, considering it was an uphill 450-yard hole that was playing into the wind. On Saturday, Moroz told me he had hit 8-iron. “Andy told me I hit 8,” he said. “I thought I hit 9, but Andy told me he gave me 8. I can usually tell by looking at the loft, but…” (His voice trailed off, and he didn’t finish the sentence.)”

The official, Tom Hearn, also showed Moroz what he believed to be the ball ‘lost’ in the rough of the 7th hole.

“According to Haefner, Moroz denied it was his ball before acknowledging it was. Hearn explained the ball had been found on the 7th hole at precisely the spot where the official had placed the flag. Moroz quickly transitioned, saying although it was one of his balls, he had hit a ball there the previous day and two others during his practice round, reasoning it must have been a ball he never found from those rounds.”

They returned to the course to show the landing areas of these suspicious drives, and after much discussion, Moroz was predictably disqualified.

French spoke to the player and was told,

“Why? I don’t understand how I can be DQ’d. I was pissed. I paid a lot of money ($3500) to play in this tournament, and I didn’t like seeing my caddie upset because they accused him of dropping the ball.”

French, who posts as @acaseofthegolf1 on Twitter, delves deeper into the history of Matt Moroz, finding out that of all the hole-in-ones he claims to have made (including at par-4s), “none of the people I spoke with saw the ball go in the hole.”

Amazingly that wasn’t all, and on Tuesday, French reported that Vincent Bachteler, the tournament director for the section, and Brett Renner, the digital media director, visited two of the holes in question, and found deep in the woods balls containing markings attributed to Moroz in areas his balls were suspected to have ended up during the event.

When reached for a comment on Tuesday, Moroz told the Fire Pit: “No comment.” 

You can read the full tale on the FirePit site, and make sure to check out the accompanying podcasts on the wildest DQ story possibly ever heard. Perhaps it’s best summed up best by Ryan himself,

“After spending two days learning about the enigmatic Moroz and his unusual antics, the author of that DM was right: I still can’t believe it.”

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20 Comments

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  1. Pingback: Cam Smith enjoys meme poking fun at Rory McIlroy at latest LIV event – GolfWRX

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  7. Taylor59

    Sep 6, 2022 at 10:03 pm

    Listen to the podcast on The Grind, it is so clear they are trying to get him or the caddy to slip up but when the player in his group has an inconstancy in his story (distance the ball was dropped forward on #7) the interviewer skips right over it. Also why does the interviewer not check the video sent in by the caddy? If the markings of the ball in the hole match the markings of the ball on 7 then it sure helps Moroz. But it doesn’t look good for Moroz.

  8. Pingback: Report: LIV rebels fly in for meeting with DP World Tour Chief Keith Pelley to discuss concerns over ‘strategic alliance’ – GolfWRX

  9. Scott

    Sep 1, 2022 at 5:59 am

    Respected bunch including Alan Shipnuck ???

  10. notpatrickreed

    Sep 1, 2022 at 4:02 am

    Perfect candidate for LIV .. put him on Patrick Reeds team!!!!!!

  11. Pingback: Golfer suspected of cheating in wild disqualification incident at Q-School - GolfWRX

    • Benny

      Sep 5, 2022 at 7:36 am

      Wow TL nice find. I remember reading that story too hahaha.

      Guess like most cheats and lies, you cannot stop and what you got away with previously means you can do it again and again.

      Crazy story.

  12. Frank

    Aug 31, 2022 at 8:18 am

    I had a stroke reading this

    • PatReedsFootWedge

      Sep 8, 2022 at 11:24 am

      Yeah I couldn’t follow clearly, not sure if it’s the writing or coffee hasn’t kicked in. Guess I had to be there

  13. Jolly Roger

    Aug 31, 2022 at 7:24 am

    Never trust a (((Shipnuck))).

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19th Hole

Cam Smith enjoys meme poking fun at Rory McIlroy at latest LIV event

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The LIV Golf Series continues this week in Chicago, where the Champion Golfer of the Year Cam Smith will make his second start.

The Australian’s move to LIV has been one of the biggest stories of 2022, with Smith reportedly signing a deal worth north of $100 million with the breakaway tour.

Ahead of this week’s event in Chicago, Smith was shown a meme by the DrunkByTheTurn team, with the Aussie seemingly entertained, laughing at its content alongside fellow pro Pat Perez.

As revealed by the DrunkByTheTurn Twitter account, the meme in question was poking fun at LIV’s biggest critic Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy has continuously criticized both the LIV Golf Series and its defectors, just this week saying that he believes no LIV player should be a part of the 2023 Ryder Cup.

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19th Hole

Major TV Network the leading contender to strike deal for LIV Golf media rights

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The latest LIV Golf event gets underway in Chicago this week, with those looking to tune in once again having to fire up YouTube to watch the 48 professionals do battle.

LIV has yet to strike a media deal that would allow a network or streaming service to broadcast their events, and while rumors surrounding a deal with Apple were circulating, Barstool’s Dan Rapaport reported this week that they deemed LIV to be “too toxic.”

According to a report from Front Office Sports, FOX Sports is now the leading contender to acquire LIV’s U.S. media rights.

While not going into specifics on whether a deal was close to being struck with FOX, Will Staeger, LIV’s chief media officer, told FOS that they are currently in discussions with “virtually every major media company.”

“We want exposure. We want broad viewership. We want to be on a platform where viewers are accustomed to watching sports.” he added. “Golf needs it, actually. Quite honestly, listening to golf on TV gets rather boring. Because everybody says the same thing every time about everybody.”

Interestingly, FOX Sports fired Greg Norman from his announcing role back in 2016, just a year after being in the job, with the Aussie telling FOS last year that he felt that he got “rolled under the bus.”

Earlier this week, Norman revealed to Kap & J. Hood on ESPN 1000 that they were in discussion with four different networks, and it appears that FOX lead the race to land a deal that should be a game-changer for LIV.

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19th Hole

Bryson DeChambeau thanks Tiger for creating LIV Golf

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