Golf giveth and golf taketh away. Or something like that.
For James Hart du Preez, a scoring mishap caused a heartbreak that everyone would have sympathy for.
Du Preez is one of the longest drivers in professional golf. The 6-foot-10 South African led the Sunshine Tour in driving distance in 2022, averaging 373 yards. In August, du Preez finished T-2 at the Gary and Vivienne Player Challenge in South Africa, his best finish of the season and an encouraging sign with Q school on the horizon.
Du Preez was paired with Zach Burry and David Hansen during the first two rounds of the New Mexico Q-School site, with Hansen keeping du Preez’s scorecard. Du Preez opened with rounds of 71 and 74.
Hansen, who had shot a second-round 80, gave du Preez his completed scorecard at the conclusion of Round 2, and du Preez confirmed each score hole-by-hole. The scores matched, the card was accurate, and after signing the card, du Preez handed it to a scoring official.
There has been plenty of heartbreak in Q-school so far but James Hart du Preez story might top the list
In the second round he signed his card and his scores were correct but he was assessed a 2-stroke penalty 3 hours after leaving the course.
— Monday Q Info (@acaseofthegolf1) October 22, 2023
According to du Preez, the scoring official confirmed the presence of two signatures on both of his playing partners’ cards, but he couldn’t remember the scoring official confirming two signatures on his own cart
The group left the scoring area. Three hours later, the head rules official at the New Mexico site called du Preez and informed him that Hansen had not signed du Preez’s card. The penalty for this oversight was two strokes to be assessed on the first hole of Round Three.
“I have played over 300 professional events all over the world,” said du Preez. “I have never seen this happen.”
Du Preez would come out the next morning and made a double bogey on his first hole, the difficult 10th, ultimately making his score a quadruple-bogey 8 after the penalty shots were assessed.
From there, Du Preez would play the next 17 holes at 6-under par with four birdies and an eagle to give himself an outside chance to advance. In the final round, he bogeyed the first two holes, but again rallied to shoot a final-round 68 to finish the four-round event at 2-under par.
He needed to be 3-under par to advance. The two-stroke penalty for his playing partner’s scoring error had cost the South African his chance to move on to second stage.
It is hard enough to get through Q-School, but honest mistakes and errors not of one’s own doing make for a bitter pill to swallow. Hanson did apologize to du Preez during their next round, but he may owe him more than that.