Mayweather-Pacquiao has nothing on Bradley-Jimenez.
Rory McIlroy, scheduled to be ringside Saturday night in Las Vegas, almost missed The Fight of the Century when Keegan Bradley and Miguel Angel Jimenez nearly went at it during their inconsequential match in San Francisco on Friday.
The fireworks began late into the WGC-Cadillac Match Play competition between two guys heading for the exit no matter what the outcome of their tilt after Jimenez took issue with a drop Bradley took off a cart path. He apparently did not like what he heard when Bradley and his caddie, Steve "Pepsi" Hale, attempted to explain the situation, which a PGA Tour rules official oversaw, and told Hale to "shut up."
Hale spat back, "You don’t tell me to shut up," and Bradley reiterated, "You don’t tell my caddie to shut up."
Bradley, who may have entered the fray with frayed nerves after taking his frustrations on his golf bag on Thursday, pulled his tee shot on the 18th hole left into a TV area, called over an official, and was taking relief from a temporary immovable obstruction. Jimenez, who, like Bradley, was eliminated from the tourney on Thursday and was playing out the string in the revamped round-robin format, walked over from about 30 yards away to object to the ruling.
"Will you do me a favor? Go to your ball. I can handle this," Bradley said, pointing down the fairway.
Things deteriorated from there and that gentlemanly handshake at the end of the match? Pepsi wanted none of it.
Keegan still wants a square go with MAJ https://t.co/Ra8BzzAEaO— ByTheMin Golf (@ByTheMinGolf) May 2, 2015
"The bottom line is, what is appropriate behavior when you are getting a ruling and you have a rules official right there and, if you want to hover, OK, but do you have the right to sit there and tell us 'You're doing it wrong?'" Hale told Brian Wacker of the incident. "It was the most inappropriate thing I've ever seen on a golf course.
"I was trying to defend my player. But as I step in to protect Keegan, Miguel tells me to shut up. And I didn't take that very well. And I stepped up and then Keegan stepped up. That just doesn't fly with me."
Bradley was of similar mind.
"We didn’t do much talking after the round. I have nothing but respect for him. He’s a great player out here, but I have to be able to stick up for myself when I feel like something’s been wrong," he told Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis after Jimenez beat him, 2-up. "It’s very rare when you’re getting a ruling with a rules official standing there to have another person kind of interject and be very, very, what;s the word, over-the-top kind of, accusatory. That’s all it was."
Jimenez, for his part, said he was just trying "to be helpful ... Anyway, this is over now."
Or, maybe not.
Lewis reported that tempers flared even more in the locker room.
"It got very, very heated. They were in each other’s face [and Hale] was upset as well," Lewis said. "They both walked away without any handshakes, without any apologies. This was not settled."
Give them time, suggested Mark Russell, VP of rules and competition for the PGA Tour. He remarked on Golf Channel that Jimenez was "mistaken somewhat" in his interpretation of the ruling, insisting Bradley’s ball had to roll two club lengths.
Instead, when Bradley dropped the ball on the cart path and it bounced back into the condition from which he received free relief, he had to pick it up and drop it again.
Jimenez, however, was well within his rights to check on what Bradley was doing, Russell averred.
"It was his opponent, he had every right in the world to come over there and see what was going on in that situations. These boys are competitors, they’re Type A personalities, and it got a little heated," he said.
Though the two "had a final fiery discussion" in the locker room, Russell was certain things would blow over.
"They just need to cool off a little bit," Russell said. "I think they’re going to be fine."
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