SIMON Dyson has vowed to be “on the ball and very professional” when he makes his first European Tour appearance since being hit with a two-month suspended sentence over the rules infringement that led to him being disqualified in the BMW Masters in October.
One well-respected player said earlier this week that the Dyson incident and action taken against him was a “hot potato” heading into £1.6 million HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship, the first leg of the European Tour’s Middle East Swing.
‘We just have to put the blinkers on and get on with it,” said the player, speaking on condition of anonymity, as Dyson prepared to step back into the spotlight in tomorrow’s opening round in the company of Jamie McLeary and Mark Foster.
Dyson was joint-second after 36 holes of the opening ‘Final Series’ when he was disqualified for signing for an incorrect score in the second round.
The 36-year-old failed to add a two-shot penalty to his card after an incident on the eighth hole at Lake Malaren, when he touched the line of his putt after marking his ball, using the ball to flatten a spike mark.
Having reviewed the incident after being alerted to it by television viewers, European Tour officials charged Dyson with a serious breach of the Tour’s code of behaviour, a charge which was upheld when the Yorkshireman appeared before a three-person disciplinary panel at Wentworth last month.
He was given a two-month ban from the European Tour, suspended for 18 months and fined £30,000, but was cleared of ‘a premeditated act of cheating’.
Now, as he prepares to step back into the spotlight in the company of rookie Jamie McLeary and Mark Foster in tomorrow’s opening round, Dyson is determined to ensure the Tour has no need to enforce that suspended sentence.
“There was never intent whosoever there,” he insisted of the incident in China. “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.”
Dyson made the walk from the putting green up to the Abu Dhabi Golf Club clubhouse alongside Rory McIlroy yesterday and has been heartened by the welcome from his fellow players so far this week.
“It’s been great,” added the 2009 Dunhill Links champion. “I can’t say enough about them, really. Nobody has said anything. Everyone has been coming up and talking to me. Nobody has mentioned it.
“It’s gone now and there isn’t anything anybody can say or do that will change what happened. I wish I could. But nobody can. So I just have to get on with it and carry on.”
While the matter may have left a cloud hanging over his head, Dyson claims it has re-ignited his passion for the game and has his sights set on getting back into the world’s top 50.
“I fell out of love with the game the last couple of years and to then have it all topped off by that was pretty low,” he admitted. “But now I’ve got that love back.
“There was a good chance that it (playing) might have been taken away for me for a couple of months, if the panel had seen it differently. But I’m probably as focused as I’ve ever been and I’ll get my head down and try to get back in that top 50 again.”
McLeary, who only got into the event when US Open champion Justin Rose withdrew last week, is making just his third appearance on the main circuit since securing his card off the Challenge Tour last season.
“There is always a huge focus on this event and this year will certainly be no different,” admitted the former Scottish Hydro Challenge winner after learning of his draw for the opening two rounds.
“However, I need to be concentrating purely on my own game and making sure it is ready for the challenge rather than worrying about what is happening around me.
“The fact that I have been drawn with players who between them have seven Tour wins is going to make this experience even more exciting.”
Former world No 1 Luke Donald, who played on the same winning Walker Cup team as Dyson at Nairn in 1999, is confident his compatriot won’t land himself in any future bother.
“I spoke to him yesterday but it was more just pleasantries,” said Donald, who is also in the field in the UAE. “I haven’t talked to him about the incident but, judging from his body language, he probably feels some remorse and feels bad about what happened.
“I think it’s something he’ll remember but hopefully he’s learned from it and hopefully it doesn’t happen again.”