Cheating, even to flirt with the practice, is anathema to golfing mores. Simon Dyson came as close as a man can to being marked by a cross and cast out from his fellow pros.
Fortunately for the effervescent and popular Yorkshireman, it didn't come to that. A hearing into his conduct during the BMW Masters last October cleared him of the ultimate sin, but found that his mad move to tap down a spike mark on the line of his putt was a deliberate act worthy of a two-month suspended ban and a £30,000 fine.
Tomorrow at the HSBC Champions in Abu Dhabi he sets out on the road to redemption, playing his first event since the sentence was handed down. "The judgement said 'aberration' and that's how I look at it, totally," Dyson said. "I've never done it in the past and I'll never do it in the future. There was no intent whatsoever to try to get an advantage.
"I'm just going to be very careful from now on, make sure I'm on the ball and be very professional about everything I do. And hopefully get back to where I was a couple of years ago."
He added: "What happened in Shanghai was the lowest point of my golfing career, massively. I don't think you can get any worse really. The last two years I've not really enjoyed my golf and then to have it all topped off by that was pretty low. There's only one way it can go now."
Dyson's victory at the KLM Open in the Netherlands at the end of 2011 propelled him into the world's top 30 for the first time. It was supposed to be the catalyst to greater things. He earned entry into the game's biggest events and was looking forward to spending more time in America.
But instead of continuing its upward climb, Dyson's career graph hit a downward turn which reached a nadir with his disqualification in Shanghai exactly two years later. Now ranked 174 in the world, Dyson has a fresh perspective and is looking forward, at the age of 36, to rebuilding his career.
"I've had so much support from people who know me and they know that's not what I'm like. The support has been unbelievable with everyone just getting on with it. What's in the past is in the past and I can't do anything about it. And that's the way I've looked at it since the day of the hearing really.
"As soon as it was over it was over. My wife and I went back home and we haven't spoken about it, we've just got on with it and I'm now looking forward to starting afresh. The last few months haven't been nice actually and it's made me realise how much I do love the game. I fell out of love with the game the last couple of years and it's just nice to be back and playing and be among everyone again."Reuse content