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Archive for Monday, October 17, 2005

Rules snafu disqualifies Wie

In first pro event, teenage sensation leaves empty-handed

October 17, 2005

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— Michelle Wie's pro debut made her look like an amateur Sunday when she was disqualified for taking a bad drop from the bushes in the third round of the Samsung World Championship.

Talk about a rude welcome less than two weeks after turning pro.

First, Annika Sorenstam blew away the field to win by eight shots, even with a double bogey on the last hole.

Then, the 16-year-old Wie no sooner had signed for a 74 to finish fourth - $53,126 - that LPGA Tour officials took her out to the seventh hole to discuss a drop she took the day before.

Nearly two hours later, she was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. Because Wie dropped the ball closer to the hole - by 3 inches according to her, by about a foot according to the rules officials - she should have added two strokes to her third-round 71.

"I learned a great lesson," Wie said, her voice choking with emotion. "From now on, I'll call a rules official no matter where it is, whether its 3 inches or 100 yards. I respect that."

Wie hit a 5-wood into a Gold Lantana bush Saturday and was barely able to find it. She told her playing partner, Grace Park, she was taking an unplayable lie, dropped away from the bush, then chipped to 15 feet and made the par. It was a critical par save, and Wie steadied herself to get within five shots of the lead.

Michael Bamberger, a reporter for Sports Illustrated, told tour officials Sunday afternoon that he was concerned about the drop. Rules officials Jim Haley and Robert O. Smith reviewed tape from NBC Sports before taking Wie and caddie Greg Johnston to the seventh green after the tournament ended Sunday.

"If I had to make the ruling based on the videotape, to me it was inconclusive," Smith said.

He had Johnston and Wie show him where the ball was in the bushes, then where they dropped. They paced it off, then used string to measure the distance and determined it to be slightly closer.

"The Rules of Golf are based on facts," Smith said. "They had to tell us where it was. The fact was, the ball was closer to the hole by 12 to 15 inches."

She took this drop with confidence, placing tees in the ground from where her ball was in the bush, and within two club lengths of that spot. Asked by Bamberger after the third round Saturday about her drop, Wie said she used "the triangle thing to make sure that you're not closer."

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