The Comm and Gender Spot

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Fair Ruling?

This past weekend marked the first LPGA tournament in which 16-year old Michelle Wie competed as a professional golfer. She availed herself pretty well at the Samsung World Championship, her first tournament as a professional. She placed fourth which would have earned her $53,126.

That is, until a Sports Illustrated reporter stepped forth after the tournament had reached its conclusion to point out a possible rule infraction that Wie had committed during the third round of the tournament. After doing a brief investigation Wie was then disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard and forfeits her standing in the tournament and her prize money.

Wie hit a shot into an unplayable location. (I believe she was behind a bush.) The rules of golf state that she would be able to take an unplayable drop to move her from behind an obstruction that would hinder her next shot. In taking such a drop she is not allowed to move herself any closer to the hole than where the ball had landed behind the obstruction. Wie believed she had done that, but upon further investigation she moved herself between 12 and 18 inches closer to the hole. For this reason she should have included some penalty strokes on her scorecard to account of moving herself closer. Because she did not believe she had done that, she did not include the additional strokes to her card. She went on to complete her third round and sign her scorecard with no problem.

A reporter from Sports Illustrated believed that Michelle may have may an error in her drop. He went so far as to say that, as a reporter, he intended to ask Michelle about it after the round to get her reaction. If he had brought it to her attention before she had signed her scorecard or told an official before the end of her third round in order to ask her about it, this disqualification would not have happened or been necessary. The addition of these two strokes would have moved Wie into a tie for eighth place and she would have earned approximately $24,600.

This reporter said that he tossed and turned all of Saturday night, went so far as to go back to the hole in question and examined what he believe Michelle did by looking at where she did her drop. The guilt of having this knowledge finally got to him and he brought it to the attention of a tour rules official.

Does it seem strange to anyone else that this reporter had a belief that some sort of rules infraction had occurred but waited 24-hours to report it, which in turn caused the disqualification of a player?

In other sports rules infractions from previous plays/events/days that are reported or discovered later don’t typically come back to hurt the players once the event was completed. If there was some sort of impropriety believed to have occurred, is it fair to punish the player (particularly one who did it inadvertently) a day later? If it is dealt with relatively immediately, then I would have no problem with it. But bringing it forward a day later, which would then result in a disqualification, just doesn’t sit right with me.


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