Did the USGA learn from its video review mistake from last month?

AUTHOR’S NOTE #1: Since the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship is one of many women’s golf tournaments used to determine qualification for the women’s golf tournament at the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, International Olympic Committee (IOC) country codes for players in the U.S. Women’s Open are noted in parenthesis following the first mention of their full names below the divider.

AUTHOR’S NOTE #2: Anna Nordqvist’s last name is pronounced nord-KWIST


On the second of three holes played in yesterday’s three-hole aggregate playoff for the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship at CordeValle golf course in California (the playoff used holes 16, 17, and 18, in that order), Anna Norqvist (SWE) touched sand while addressing her ball, which was at rest and located in a bunker. Normally, when a player illegally grounds his/her club in a bunker or water hazard in a golf event, he/she will call a penalty on himself/herself. However, in Nordqvist’s case, it was not visibly obvious to her that she had illegally grounded her club in the bunker, and, in fact, only a FOX camera showing a close-up of Nordqvist’s address of the ball showed that Nordqvist had, in fact, touched sand while addressing her ball in a bunker. The USGA conducted a video review, and, after both players in the playoff had started playing the final hole of the playoff, they were both notified of the penalty assessed to Nordqvist for breach of Rule 13-4, which prohibits a player from, when his/her ball is at rest in a bunker or water hazard, touching water, sand, the ground, or loose impediments with the club, except when striking the ball itself. The penalty for breach of Rule 13-4 during stroke play, which was used for all four rounds of regulation and the three-hole aggregate playoff, is two strokes on the hole which the breach of the rule occurred. Brittany Lang (USA) went on to win the U.S. Women’s Open by three playoff strokes; had Nordqvist not been assessed a penalty, Lang would have still won, but only by one playoff stroke.

Here’s the video of Nordqvist grounding her club in the bunker:

I believe that the U.S. Golf Association (USGA), which sanctions the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship and some other golf tournaments, including the U.S. Open golf championship, did a far better job of handling the video review in regards to the Nordqvist grounded club situation in the U.S. Women’s Open than the Dustin Johnson moved ball situation that occurred during the final round of regulation in the U.S. Open, which is also sanctioned by the USGA. In that scenario, Johnson’s ball moved on the 5th green at Oakmont County Club in Pennsylvania, and he was initially given no penalty, since a rules official on-course ruled that he had not caused his ball to move. However, Johnson was notified several holes later that his score on the 5th hole was under video review, and it was after his round that he was notified that he had incurred a one-stroke penalty for causing his ball to move on the green without actually taking a stroke. This caused nearly everybody with an interest in golf to criticize the USGA for their handling of the Dustin Johnson moved ball scenario, and rightfully so, since Johnson was not notified of the penalty until after he had completed his round, even though the moved ball situation occurred less than halfway through his round.

If you were to ask me whether or not the USGA has learned from its video review mistake, the short answer would be yes.

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