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Tringale fleshes out DQ at PGA

PARAMUS, N.J. -- You might never have heard the name Cameron Tringale were it not for the odd but ultimately smart decision he made last week to disqualify himself from the PGA Championship, days after the tournament had ended.

Now in his fifth year on the PGA Tour, Tringale, 26, is having a nice, if not spectacular pro golf career. He's yet to win, but he's earned more than $6 million to date and is No. 61 in this year's FedEx Cup standings.

A 66 at Ridgewood Country Club on Thursday put him 1 stroke off the first-round lead at the Barclays. A strong tournament here or a good run through the FedEx Cup playoffs and he could lock up spots in each of the major championships next year.

All of which makes the disqualification all the more important -- especially for someone who has played in just five majors, making just one cut. He might not have felt good about playing in the biggest events next year if he didn't rectify a possible wrong.

Tringale's bogey putt on the 11th hole at Valhalla on Aug. 10 during the final round of the PGA Championship was not caught on video. There is nothing to dissect or disseminate, only his word and that of competitor Matt Jones.

It was Jones who brought to Tringale's attention before signing their scorecards that his putting stroke prior to tapping in his short bogey putt could be construed as a miss. While it might seem inconsequential, that is exactly what Jones should have done if he wondered at all, as it is his duty to protect the field.

Something clearly caused him to think something was amiss, so he brought it up, the two players apparently discussed it, and they agreed that it was not a stroke. Tringale had a "4" on his official scorecard, he ended up tied for 33rd and earned $53,000.

"I asked him what he had on No. 11 because we all saw what happened," Jones said after his round Thursday at Ridgewood. "Did you not make a stroke at that ball? He said there was no intent and once a player says there is no intent to make a stroke, I just left it at that and I signed the scorecard.

"When a player says there is no intent, you have to take his credibility and trust him. And he doesn't have any type of reputation to think otherwise or question him for that."

Jones said he was surprised when he learned Tringale had disqualified himself. "I thought it was over and done with as soon as he signed his card," Jones said.

But the entire episode bothered Tringale, to the point that four days after the tournament ended, he called the PGA of America to voice his concerns about what had occurred.

"I started to kind of review my week and that came up in my head, is there is a doubt, if my playing competitor was doubting what that looked like," Tringale said. "The more I thought about it, I didn't want the way I play this game or my integrity questioned. So I wrestled with it for Tuesday, spoke to some people, rules officials and stuff, just kind of walked through the events on that hole, and then eventually came to the decision that there's enough doubt that I want to take myself out."

Tringale consulted rules officials from the USGA and PGA of America. And he did some soul searching. Did he want those 38 points he earned to perhaps make the difference in him qualifying for a major championship in 2015? Could he live with himself?

"The more I played it out in my head -- getting down the road, if I play well, I make it to East Lake [for the Tour Championship], would I have been there if I did take a 5? So I just felt like it was better to get it out and take myself out than to just be questioning and doubting and wondering for the rest of my life."

It is fair to wonder why Tringale didn't initially feel the move he took at the ball on Sunday at the PGA constituted a stroke, then later did. Not having the benefit of seeing it ourselves, it is difficult to know for sure.

Jones tried to describe it as Tringale might have whiffed. His ball was just 3 inches from the cup after a missed par putt. "It looked ... that's why I asked him, because it looked a certain way," Jones said. "But as he said, there was no intent. And you have to take his word for it."

In talking about the situation, it was clear that Jones was uncomfortable with what occurred.

"The ball was very close," he said. "We've all gone to tap in a putt and missed the putt. We've all done it ... but you just have to trust [what] he says and we do."

This didn't play out for days, as it appeared. The PGA of America didn't announce the disqualification until Saturday, but it was clear Tringale had numerous second thoughts pretty soon after the conclusion of the tournament.

"The rules officials I spoke with said, 'Look, no one knows and it's your call. But you have to make a decision either way. It can't be, I'm not sure,'" Tringale said. "So I was either out or I'm living with the question, and so I said I'll take a 5 and I'm out."

Despite his doubts, Jones was not glad to see Tringale disqualify himself. "If he was going to, he should have taken care of it in the scorer's tent. I was happy with it. I wouldn't have signed his scorecard if I thought otherwise."

Clearly Tringale did. And he made it right.