What Does The USGA Get Right?
I don’t know about you, but if I was the governing body of golf in North America and my biggest tournament of the year was completely fucked up 3 weeks ago by a rules gaffe I think I’d probably tread very lightly on any decisions made in my next championship. But no, the dandruff covered blue coats of the USGA don’t think that way. They’ll just ram their damn heads right back into a brick wall like a brainless mule instead.
I know with the PGA Tour on hiatus this week you might have gone on cruise control and tuned out golf to rest up for the British Open. I wouldn’t blame you. I took a rare dip into women’s golf after my own round was over on Sunday so I could see the conclusion of the ladies’ national championship. I was looking for some drama and easily found it. After contenders like Lydia Ko faded down the stretch fans were left with Anna Nordqvist and Brittany Lang in a 3 hole aggregate playoff. On the 2nd hole Nordqvist found the sand off the tee and hit her next shot over the green. Both players (seemed to have) parred the first two playoff holes and the twosome was all square sitting less than 100 yards out in 2 on the par five 18th hole. Enter the USGA.
At that very point they decided to let Nordqvist hit her 3rd to the green then tell her and Lang about a penalty they were slapping her with due to grounding her club in the bunker on the prior hole. Here’s the video:
Is that a penalty? Abso-fucking-lutely. Should it have been called? We can debate that all night long. When should the USGA have told the players about it? Well before anyone teed off on 18. The USGA staff got wind of this within minutes of it happening. There are radios and cell phones all over the course. The Fox camera guy had an inkling this was bad right away. Lang and Nordqvist should have been stopped and notified. There wasn’t a tournament going on around them, this was a playoff for a huge major in the women’s game. Why let them play another shot when a penalty is in doubt?
Once Lang heard the news she changed her whole strategy on her shot to the last green. How’s that fair to Nordqvist who already hit? Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee thinks Anna should have asked the official if she could replay her shot. I usually think he’s an asshat but he’s right for once with this. She would at least have had the opportunity to play her shot more aggressively and put more pressure on Lang. Such a move would have been unprecedented, but they’re the USGA, they could have made this happen.
The penalty itself, that’s pretty shitty but it had to be called. No one saw it live. Nordqvist had no idea she did it. What I don’t get is why any player with that much at stake has a club so close to the sand in that situation. I’ve never grounded a club in the bunker, how did she let it happen? The only reason it was caught was because of a high def camera. Is that fair? Players out of contention can get away with minor rule breaches they aren’t aware of but a leader with cameras on every shot is under more scrutiny? That thinking seems off base in such a democratic game.
I’d like to see the USGA and R&A roll back the penalties that are applied via replays. If the player doesn’t call it then the spirit of the rule is broken anyway. No call-ins, no HD shots blown up to show a micro grain of sand move, nothing. There are officials with all groups at majors. There are rule experts all over the grounds. If they can’t make a ruling without a camera or some other aide then there’s no reason to get stroked.
I Would Have Spat On The Pin Dick Official
To her credit, Nordqvist took the penalty better than anyone could have imagined. I would have lost my shit. She didn’t even argue she simply tried to bang her next shot in the hole to make up ground and was done with it. She told fans not to feel bad for her because she just finished 2nd in the open, she’ll be back. She also got about $500,000 for her efforts so I don’t feel bad for her either. She gained me as a fan for how she reacted. Lost in all this is how well Lang played and how she deserved to win but everyone forgot that thanks to the USGA’s fuck up. Even the USGA president, Diana Murphy, couldn’t give Lang the respect she deserved.
Leave it to the NLU crew to work that up. Well done. In all seriousness, how has Murphy not been impeached as of Monday at 5 pm after that? She fucked up her comments at Oakmont too and appeared drunk. Calling Brittany “Bethany” 5 or more times when she just won your mother fucking championship tells me that Murphy was either in the sauce again or she just doesn’t give a fuck. She’s a disgraceful president. Yet no one calls for her head because she’s a woman. But hey, Ted Bishop (who sucked too) can call Ian Poulter a girl and get shit-canned in 45 minutes. How is it possible that the PGA has more self-awareness than the USGA?