The Alfred Dunhill Challenge, which pitted a team from Southern Africa against one from Australasia two weeks ago in Johannesburg, South Africa, is another Ryder Cup imitation, but with one big difference: In this competition the participants were paid appearance fees. The rates were on a sliding scale, according to each player's Sony Ranking. A player who ranked in the top live got $150,000; those between sixth and 10th received $50,000. For a player ranked below the top 10, the payoff was $25,000. There was also a $25,000 bonus for any player who had won a major.
The money is just one reason it was hard to take this event too seriously and apparently Greg Norman and Nick Price didn't. Matched up in the Sunday singles, they came to the 16th green all square. Price had a par pull of 15 feel. Norman had a par pull of nine feel. In a startling move, they conceded each oilier the putts and advanced lo the 17th green. Price later said that the two mates had agreed beforehand that if they faced similar-length pulls for par, even if they were 10 to 20 feet, they would concede them. "We didn't want lo get into a Ryder Cup situation where there is animosity between the guys, like the situation that occurred between Paul Azinger and Seve Ballesteros," he explained, referring to widely reported incidents at the 1989 and 1991 Ryder Cups. In'89 Azinger complained about what he though was questioable games-manship by Ballesteros, who in turn took offense at Azinger's refusal to concede some shout putts and to allow Ballesteros to replace a ball in play. The lingering bitterness spilled over to '91, when Ballesteros tacitly accused Azinger and his partner. Chip Heck, of cheating during a foursomes match at kiawah Island, S.C. "That is not the etiquette or the spirit of the game," Price said.
Maybe not, but it's a far cry from conceding two par pulls several strides long in international competition.
Not that it matters, but Norman bogeyed the last hole to lose the match. "We just felt like we were both going to make them [on 16], so it didn't matter," Norman said last week at Doral. "We both fell good about the situation, and there wasn't even a second guess in our mind about doing it. There's nothing Wrong with doing that."
Oh, yes there is. Even if it didn't ailed the outcome of the competition, which was won by Southern Africa 14-11, Norman and Price should have putted out. This wasn't sportsmanship. This was an ill-conceived notion that look away any honor the Alfred Dunhill Challenge had—and it didn't have much to begin with.