PGA Tour Members Tee-Off on ‘Laughable’ Sports Integrity Program

Posted on: January 19, 2018, 06:00h. 

Last updated on: January 19, 2018, 03:47h.

As the PGA Tour gets back into full swing with complete fields, players are being forced to watch an anti-gambling video prior to teeing off in their first tournament in 2018. Some of their reviews on the video have been less than favorable.

PGA Tour Integrity Program
24-year-olds Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, respectively ranked #4 and #2 in the world, both left college early. The PGA Tour is making them go back to class. (Image: Chris Carlson/Associated Press)

The PGA Tour’s Integrity Program, which was announced last fall and officially implemented January 1, seeks to protect sanctioned golf events from potential outside influences linked to gambling. The Tour said the goal is “to maintain integrity and prevent and mitigate betting-related corruption in PGA Tour competitions.”

Players are required to watch an online video that educates them on how to shield away from those with gambling ties. While the preeminent professional golf tour continues to get younger, some pros think the Integrity Program video is a bit absurd.

“I thought the questions were laughable. They were all like first-grade-level questions,” PGA Tour veteran Chez Reavie said this week. “I would like to think everyone out here already knows the answer to those questions. But the Tour has to protect themselves.”

Despite the “laughable” questions, Reavie admits he has friends that bet on his game. “I make it clear (to them) I don’t want to know. No one has ever approached me about losing a match,” Reavie explained.

In addition to players being responsible for refraining from gambling and associated persons, the Integrity Program involves sports betting data company Genius Sports, which is monitor betting lines for suspicious movements.

Comical Tutorial

According to the Golf Channel, which obtained the tutorial footage, some of the questions are indeed a bit silly. The training video shows players how to properly respond to questions.

One example includes a person asking a player, “I noticed your partner pulled out of his approach on 18. Looked like his back. Is he okay for tomorrow?” The correct answer, to be in accordance with the Integrity Program policy, is “I don’t know, sorry. I’m sure he will get it looked at if it’s bothering him.”

Players who don’t follow the correct response procedures will be given a warning upon their first infraction. A second violation will force the PGA Tour member to undergo additional training. A third breach comes with a fine “up to $500,000,” with subsequent violations bringing a possible lifetime ban into question.

PGA Tour Commissioner says the program is simply a proactive measure.

Lucky Lefty

At country clubs across the country, weekend rounds often involve a friendly wager between friends. And while that’s banned on the PGA Tour, that doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t happen.

The biggest alleged offender is Phil Mickelson, as the 42-time PGA Tour winner is rather notorious for having side bets with his playing companions.

Lefty also enjoyed a long friendship with Billy Walters, the man many believe to be the most successful sports bettor in Las Vegas history. Walters was sentenced to five years in prison for his involvement in an insider-trading scheme last year, with Mickelson saying during the trial, “I have to be responsible for the people I associate with.”

A year earlier, another Mickelson pal, Gregory Silveira, was sentenced to 12 months in prison for running an offshore sportsbook and wiring money to the operation from the US. Rumored to be a client of Silveira’s, one wire transfer in the amount of $2.75 million contained a reference with the initials “PM.” Mickelson was never found of any wrongdoing.