The rules of golf can not only confound the average weekend duffer and his or her pals; they can even confound the supposed "expert" rules officials on the major tours around the world.
At the 2013 Solheim Cup, the Ladies version of the Ryder Cup, in Parker, Colorado, Team Europe seized a 5-3 advantage after day one. They were led by Sweden's Suzann Petterson, who teamed with Beatriz Recari in the morning Foursomes format to defeat Brittany Lang and Angela Stanford 2-1, and then with Spain's Carlota Ciganda in the afternoon four-ball matches to take down Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson of Team USA.
And that afternoon four ball match is where the ruling controversy occurred. After Ciganda hit her ball into the hazard on the par five 15th, it took nearly 30 minutes for LPGA rules official Brad Alexander, who had been called in for a second opinion, to rule where she could place her ball and take her next shot. He determined that one of her options was to drop her ball 40 yards behind the hazard, which she chose to do. She was able with the penalty stroke to get to the green on her fourth shot, and halved the hole with Lewis and Thompson with a clutch 15 foot par putt.
The ruling as it turned out was incorrect, which rules officials determined during a 30 minute evening meeting. Now, one will never know if Ciganda would've been able to save par if she'd hit her third shot from a correct placement, but that was not the rub for Team Captain Meg Mallon and Lewis and Thompson and other Team USA members.
Lewis was most frustrated with the time it took to make the ruling. She and Thompson had been making a surge, and she felt that their momentum was squelched with the long wait.
"I don't think it was correct. It took way too long. It killed the momentum of our match. It killed the momentum of the matches behind us, and it's just not what you want the rules officials to ever do…"
Petterson and Ciganda won the match on the final 18th hole only adding to Lewis and Mallon's frustration.
Team USA fell behind 3-1 in the morning foursome matches. Their only victory came from the pairing of Morgan Pressel and Solheim Cup rookie Jessica Korda, who took down Catriona Mathew and Jodi Ewart 3-2. Surprisingly, Mallon didn't send either of those winners out for the afternoon four-ball matches. She instead stuck with Lewis, who had already lost while teamed with Lizette Salas 4-2 to the Team Europe pairing of Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall.
Team USA did manage to not fall further behind in the afternoon matches. Two time Major winner Cristie Kerr and surprise Captain's pick Michelle Wie used clutch putting to win their match against Mathew and Charley Hull, 2-1. Hull, at 17, is the youngest player to ever compete in a Solheim Cup. Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang dominated their match, 4-3 against Nordqvist and Giulia Sergas.
They'll repeat the format again today, with different pairings and different opponents. Team USA will need for top American players like Lewis and Paula Creamer to turn things around before heading into single matches tomorrow.
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