A pattern of inappropriate behavior has finally caught up to Korn Ferry Tour member Alejandro Tosti.
Tosti, who sits fourth in the Korn Ferry Tour points race and has locked up his PGA Tour card for next season, was suspended on Friday morning, a day after opening with a 67 at the Albertsons Boise Open in Idaho. (Tour officials said Tosti had "withdrawn.") The PGA Tour’s highly unusual action was the result of multiple reported incidents that culminated with an expletive-filled outburst on Thursday on his group’s last hole of the day.
The most recent incident came after a backup on the par-4 9th hole at Hillcrest Country Club. After playing partner Kyle Westmoreland hit his tee shot into the trees and took some time to play his next shot, Tosti "exploded," according to multiple people including fans and volunteers, launching into an expletive-filled outburst over the length of time Westmoreland was taking. It occurred in front of players, volunteers and numerous fans, who reported the incident to the Tour. One volunteer described the outburst as “really embarrassing.” Westmoreland declined to comment, saying only, "He's a great player, and I hope he learns from this." After the round, Tour officials approached Tosti, and he was removed from the event before his Friday morning tee time. This incident was the latest of many leading up to the disciplinary action handed out this week.
In New Jersey the week before, Tour officials were informed of multiple instances of poor behavior. On multiple holes, volunteers and fans reported that Tosti cursed at his caddie for the week, Ray Yoel, including after a misread on a green. The expletives were loud enough to be heard by people standing by the green. He also told Yoel to "shut up" multiple times after hitting a shot.
After another incident in the second round, Tosti was summoned to a meeting with Tour officials. On the par-3 11th, Tosti hit a poor shot. According to Yoel, Tosti dropped his club and kicked it. The club "boomeranged," Yoel said, inadvertently hitting one of the tee markers hard enough for it to roll off the box. Tim Widing, who was playing with Tosti, said he didn't see the club-kicking, but he did hear the noise. Yoel replaced the tee marker and noted that it “only had a small dent in it.” Tosti apologized to Widing and the other player in the group, Pontus Nyholm.
I reached out to Tosti, a 27-year-old from Argentina, for comment multiple times, but through his representatives, he declined to comment.
In mid-July, the Korn Ferry Tour visited TPC Colorado, where yet another incident occurred after Tosti and his playing partner stepped to the tee box at the reachable par-4 3rd in the third round. In the first two rounds, the group on the green allowed those on the tee to hit up in an effort to speed up play. On Saturday, however, the players were in twosomes, and the pairing of Widing and Ryan McCormick decided to complete the hole without waving up Tosti and his playing partner. When Tosti arrived at the tee, he whistled at the group and loudly used multiple expletives to complain. Fans and volunteers surrounded the tee, and numerous people reported being able to hear the outburst.
After the green cleared, Tosti hit his tee shot, and as the ball was in the air, dropped another expletive directed at the pairing in front.
Three holes later, at another reachable par-4, the same scenario played out. Widing and McCormick were close to holing out when Tosti arrived on the tee. Again, Tosti whistled loudly and used profanity to complain. Korn Ferry rules official Jim Duncan was near the green. Widing, who heard the whistles, looked back at the tee, and said Duncan told him, "I'll handle this."
According to multiple people near the tee area, when Duncan approached, Tosti yelled at him, using various expletives. The two went back and forth for a few minutes while standing face to face before separating. In a reference to pace of play, Duncan was heard saying, “We know where every group is; we will handle it.” Tosti responded, “I forgot that you run the Tour.” According to players and caddies I spoke with, there have been many instances of verbal altercations between Tosti and rules officials; most reported the arguments were filled with multiple expletives, including one incident where he told a rules official to “go die.”
One player who played with Tosti at an event in Illinois told me, "He hit every sprinkler head he saw. I was just waiting for one to burst." Added one PGA Tour veteran, "He is just exhausting to play with." Other incidents include nearly hitting a playing partner's caddie with a ball after hitting it baseball style in anger and nearly flipping over a table in scoring.
This season's disciplinary action follows a season on the Latin America Tour that included multiple incidents similar to the ones on the Korn Ferry Tour. One PGA Tour official told a player, "We have a book on him." The LatinoAmerican season concluded with a card ceremony where, according to multiple players and sponsors at the event, Tosti dropped numerous f-bombs invoking the U.S., including when one American was announced.
In my reporting, I talked to multiple people who said Tosti is engaging, polite and outgoing off the course. Josh Franklin, tournament director for the KFT Bahamas events, said, "We had nothing but positive experiences with him in the Bahamas." Others echoed this sentiment, including a host family who said Tosti cooked a meal for the group.
Several players mentioned how talented Tosti is and why that makes his behavior much more frustrating. "He can do anything with the ball and has had an amazing year,” one player said. “The guy has the ability to be a star."
In fact, Tosti won two weeks ago at the Korn Ferry event in Omaha, Neb., coasting to a three-shot victory on the strength of a course-record-tying 62 in the final round. But even that didn’t come without controversy. Yoel was on the bag and had agreed to being paid the standard 10 percent in the event of a victory, with one stipulation: Tosti would first deduct money due for taxes in Argentina, which amounted to about 38 percent of his winnings. That took almost $6,000 out of Yoel’s pocket. “He paid me what we agreed, but after talking with other caddies, I learned that wasn't the standard and won't agree to that again,” said Yoel, a long-time Korn Ferry caddie who lives in his car while on the road to save money. According to multiple players and caddies, Tosti has routinely paid well below the standard weekly rate. The pair didn't work together in Boise.
Tosti’s on-course behavior had become such a problem that the Tour made the highly unusual decision to suspend him immediately. Multiple PGA Tour members and long-time golf journalists don't remember a player being pulled from an event before its conclusion solely because of poor behavior. Based on previous penalties for conduct, his suspension is believed to be for the rest of the Korn Ferry season, although because the Tour does not announce disciplinary action, the length of the suspension is unknown. According to the manager of a KFT member, Tosti can appeal the suspension if he chooses to go that route, and with two weeks off before the next event, the appeal could be heard before the Korn Ferry Tour starts back up in Nashville.