Pro Golfer Penalised 58 Strokes in Senior Event
It pays to know the rules. Such was the fate of American player Lee Ann Walker during the Senior LPGA Championship at French Lick Resort in Indiana, who was penalised a staggering 58 strokes over two rounds after being found unaware of a key change made to the laws of the game.
When the new Rules of Golf came into play on January 1st, among the introductions was a prohibition on caddies standing behind players to line them up on the green, unless the stance is started again. The 47-year-old - who hadn't competed in a professional event for the better part of a decade - didn't realise this was the case until midway through her second round of the tournament that was eventually won by Sweden's Helen Alfredsson.
Consequently, Walker and LPGA rules official Marty Robinson had to analyse her play to that point, having to add two penalty strokes for each instance of her caddie standing behind her when putting. 42 shots were added on her first round of 85, and 16 more onto her second round of 74, officially shooting 127 and 90 in her championship debut. 73 over par.
Lee Ann Walker adds 58 penalty strokes at Senior LPGA because she's been out of golf so long she didn't know the caddie alignment rule. She went back and counted every one.— Doug Ferguson (@dougferguson405) October 16, 2019
"This may be my claim to fame," said Walker, in comments reported on Golfweek. "This is my first competitive round since 2011 or 2012. Now that I don’t play the LPGA anymore, I don’t watch golf. I knew there were rules changes. I just honestly didn’t know ’em. Just plain and simple. My stupidity for not going over the rules changes.
"I wasn’t mad; I wasn’t upset,” she added. "I was just like, that’s going to add a ton to my scores. At that point what can you do? Obviously, it’s my fault for not knowing the rules, but what am I going to do?"
Earlier in the year, contentious incidents involving Haotong Li and Denny McCarthy saw clarifications made to the rule by the R&A and USGA - Rule 10.2b. But regular tour players have shown themselves to be quick learners during the intervening months.
Lee Ann Walker's experience was deeply unfortunate, but handled with humility. While this situation won't affect the average golfer, it's a reminder to be fully aware of the rules when playing competitively, as mistakes can be made unknowingly. There just won't be many that can match this story for the severity.
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