SAN FRANCISCO – A meaningless match sure didn’t look like one Friday when Keegan Bradley and Miguel Angel Jimenez got into a nose-to-nose argument in the Match Play Championship.
Both players, already eliminated from reaching the weekend, were on the 18th hole when Jimenez questioned a drop Bradley received. Bradley’s caddie, Steve “Pepsi” Hale, got involved and Jimenez told him to shut up.
“You don’t tell me to shut up,” Hale said.
Bradley took exception, got in the face of the Spaniard and told him, “You don’t tell my caddie to shut up.”
“I felt like he was being very disrespectful to me – not only me, but my caddie,” Bradley said in the parking lot. “I felt like I had to stand up for my boy here. Me and Pepsi have been through a lot.”
Jimenez met with reporters outside the locker room and said it was over.
“Whatever he say, now is finished,” Jimenez said. “The round is finished and everything is done. We had a little discussion, but it is done.”
The 51-year-old Spaniard nodded his head when asked if Bradley took the discussion too personal. Jimenez said he was only concerned that when Bradley took a drop that it rolled more than two club-lengths away. Bradley said there was no reason for Jimenez to get involved because it was being handled by a rules official.
“Nobody listen to me. But anyway, this is over now,” Jimenez said.
According to PGA Tour rules official, Bradley was taking relief from a temporary immovable obstruction. After his drop, he still didn’t have a clear swing and had to drop again. Jimenez thought Bradley could only take another drop if the ball rolled more than two club-lengths. He wasn’t aware a fence was still in his way.
Mark Russell, the tour’s vice president of competition, said Jimenez had “every right” to step in and raise questions.
Jimenez wound up winning the match, 2 up, when Bradley failed to make birdie on the 18th. Bradley now has lost eight consecutive singles matches in this event, the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup.
They had short conversation on the 18th green, though the way Bradley walked briskly off made it clear that nothing was settled.
“It was just a heat-of-the-moment thing,” Bradley said. “It was disappointing. I’m pretty bummed out about it. It was just … I had a ruling and he felt like he needed to intervene and I felt like he was being inappropriate to me and my caddie.
“I have nothing but respect for him. He’s a great player out here,” Bradley said. “But I have to be able to stick up for myself when I feel something is wrong.”