Dyson: The only way is up
1:15pm Wednesday 15th January 2014 in © Press Association 2014
England's Simon Dyson wants to put the worst moment of his career behind him as he returns to action for the first time since being handed a suspended two-month ban from the European Tour.
Dyson was joint second after 36 holes of the BMW Masters in October 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 he appeared before a disciplinary panel at Wentworth in December.
The panel, chaired by Ian Mill QC and made up of European Senior Tour player Gordon Brand Jnr and League Managers' Association chief executive Richard Bevan, found that Dyson deliberately pressed down the spike mark to improve his position, despite knowing it was against the rules.
However, in a somewhat contradictory statement, Dyson was cleared of "a premeditated act of cheating" and given a two-month ban, suspended for 18 months, fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £7,500 towards the Tour's costs.
Asked ahead of this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship if he had been through the lowest point of his career, Dyson said on Wednesday: "Yeah, 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 way it can go now, hopefully."
One fellow professional told Press Association Sport last week that he would prefer not to be paired with Dyson in Abu Dhabi, but the Yorkshireman insisted he had been well received so far.
"It's been really nice actually," Dyson added on BBC Radio Five Live. "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 a little bit and it's just nice to be back and playing and be amongst everyone again.
"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. Everyone's just getting on with it.
"What's in the past is in the past and I can't do anything about it. 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. Me and my wife back home haven't spoken about it. I can just get on with it and am looking forward to starting afresh now.
"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."
Speaking about the reaction from his fellow professionals, Dyson added: "It's been great. I can't say enough about them really. Nobody has said anything. Everyone has been coming up and talking to me.
"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. I just have to get on with it and carry on."
The incident occurred in the first of the inaugural Final Series events at the end of the 2013 season. Dyson did not play in either of the following two tournaments, thereby ending his chances of finishing in the top 60 on the Race to Dubai and qualifying for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
The former Walker Cup player returned to action at the start of the 2014 season in November, finishing joint 52nd in the South African Open and then joint third in the Alfred Dunhill Championship just four days before the disciplinary hearing.
"I went down for the two in South Africa and just absolutely loved being back out and getting amongst it again," the world number 174 added. "There was a good chance that it might have been taken away from me for a couple of months, if the panel had seen it differently.
"It made me realise I love doing what I do. 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."
Former world number one Luke Donald, a close friend of Dyson, said: "I spoke to him yesterday but it was more just pleasantries - I haven't talked to him about the incident.
"The vibe and body language I got from him was that he feels very bad about what happened and wants to make up for it and hopefully he can put this behind him and act the way he should. Hopefully it doesn't happen again."